Our Group Head of HR, Emily Meredith reflects on 2021

With the Coronavirus pandemic dominating our personal and working lives for almost 2 years, there have been limited legislative changes. Instead, HR professionals have had to deal with the many people issues which the pandemic has raised including staff absence (illness and isolation), furlough (had anyone heard of this pre-COVID?!), remote / hybrid working, bereavement, redundancies, low morale and engagement etc.

Reflecting on 2021 with our Group Head of HR, Emily Meredith

I think most people can agree that the pandemic has had a profound effect on the workplace and business have had to adjust to people’s changing priorities and motivations. Add BREXIT and the candidate shortage into the mix and it really is a challenging time for businesses and HR professionals so the ability to adapt and evolve is key.

As we move into 2022, here are some key challenges and changes to be aware of and prepare for:

What to expect in 2022

Continued candidate shortage

It is expected that the current candidate shortage will continue for some time. Staff shortages and more than 1 million UK job vacancies mean that there is considerable competition for talent, resulting in candidates demanding higher salaries and additional benefits. Companies need to review their salaries and benefits packages and other people policies including; career development, flexible working, training etc. Companies will also need to think about their internal recruitment and employer branding with the aim of attracting the best possible talent and retaining the talent they already have.

Hybrid Working

The trend towards a hybrid working model is likely to continue as employees and companies have seen the benefits that this way of working can bring to engagement and productivity. Hybrid working is a best of both approach which allows employees to spend some time in the workplace and some time working from home each week. Companies should think about introducing a formal hybrid working policy to clearly define expectations and behaviours. Hybrid working is often non-contractual and more permanent and formal changes to working arrangements should be managed via a forma flexible working procedure.

Right to work changes

Digital right to work checks will become permanent from April 2022. In March 2020, temporary rules were introduced due to remote working during the pandemic and these will now become permanent. This is seen as a very positive move for businesses. Further Home Office guidance will be issued prior to April.

Mandatory Vaccinations

From April 2022, vaccinations will become mandatory for healthcare professionals with face-to-face contact with patients and service users, unless they are exempt. This is likely to result in the loss of many workers within the sector.

National Minimum Wage

There are further increases to the NLW and NMW rates from 1 April 2022:

Rate

April 2022

Current

Increase

National Living Wage

£9.50

£8.91

6.6%

21-22 years old

£9.18

£8.36

9.8%

18-20 years old

£6.83

£6.56

4.1%

The following increases will also take effect from 03 April 2022. 

Statutory Maternity, Paternity & Adoption Pay (SMP, SPP & SAP) = £156.66
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) = £99.35

National Insurance Contributions

From April 2022, there will be a 1.25% increase in NICs for working age employees, the self-employed and employers. The increase will fund health and social care and will be replaced in April 2023 by a separate health and social care levy (and NIC rates will revert to current levels at that point). This increase will have an effect on employees’ take-home pay and company P&L’s.

Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

There will be an additional bank holiday in 2022 (Friday 3 June), to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee. In addition, the late May bank holiday has been moved to Thursday 2 June. Employers need to review employment contracts to establish whether this is a contractual entitlement for employees, or if it will be given as a gesture of goodwill.

Reflecting on 2021 with our Group Head of HR, Emily Meredith

On the horizon

The following changes have been announced but with no dates for implementation as yet:

  • The right to request flexible working from day one.
  • The right for agency workers to request a more stable working pattern after 26 weeks (part of the Good Work Plan).
  • A proactive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to introduce new protections against harassment by third parties.
  • Unpaid leave for carers.
  • The establishment of a single labour market enforcement agency, responsible for enforcing basic rights for vulnerable workers.

These are just some of the changes and challenges businesses can expect to encounter in 2022. Attend whatever webinars and training events you can in order to stay informed and be prepared for any changes.

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