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1. 2022 Employment Law Changes: Rate Changes

The 2022 employment law changes will include the usual set of rate changes and these will take effect in April 2022. They include the following:-

The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay, Adoption Pay, Maternity Allowance, and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay

NI contributions 1.25% increase from April 2022. (Coming soon in 2023 it will be separate tax on earned income and should be detailed on a payslip as Health & Social Care Levy).

Statutory Sick Pay

The statutory cap on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating the basic award and statutory redundancy pay

2. Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Since 2017 employers who have a headcount of 250 or more must comply with regulations on gender pay gap reporting. The deadline for gender pay gap reporting by public sector employers, private sector employers, and voluntary organisations in 2021 was put back until midnight on the 4th October 2021. However, in terms of 2022, the deadlines are anticipated to revert back to the normal timescales. Accordingly, the deadline for public sector employers to report their data is likely to be the 30th March 2022. And for private sector employers and voluntary organisations, the deadline is likely to be the 4th April 2022.

3. Employment Bill

A much anticipated part of the 2022 employment law changes is the Employment Bill, although there is no guarantee that one will appear. If it does, then it is likely to include the following measures:-

  • The establishment of a new single enforcement body for employment rights.
  • The extension of protection against redundancy re pregnancy, maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave, including extending redundancy protection to six months post return to work after the end of maternity leave, with similar protection afforded to those returning to work from adoption leave and shared parental leave
  • Neonatal leave and pay
  • A new right to 1 week’s unpaid leave per year for carers
  • (already reviewed) New legislation to ensure that tips left by customers in restaurants are retained by staff in full, and are not either partially or wholly taken off them by their employers.
  • A new right for workers to request a more stable contract after 26 weeks service
  • (already reviewed) New legislation to enhance flexible working rights
  • An extension of time required to break a period of continuous service from one week to four weeks
  • New legislation making it compulsory for organisations to publish their modern slavery statements on a new government-run registry

Other possible measures which may appear in any Employment Bill as part of the 2022 employment law changes include:-

  • New legislation relating to post-termination non-compete clauses, over which the Government is currently consulting on
  • An extension of the ban on exclusivity clauses beyond zero hours contracts, to contracts where the workers’ guaranteed weekly income is less than the Lower Earnings Limit of £120 a week, which the Government is also currently consulting on
  • Compensation for those whose shifts are cancelled at short notice, an entitlement to reasonable notice of allocated shifts, and protections for those who refuse last minute shifts
  • New legislation to protect against “firing and rehiring”

4. Other 2022 employment law changes include the following:-

April 2022 – regulatory reforms for trade unions and employers’ associations will be introduced under which “new enforcement powers and levy mechanism will bring the Certification Officer into line with other regulators like the Pensions Regulator.“

But aren’t all Outsourced HR Services all the Same? How are we at Craven HR Services any different?

Yes we offer all the usual ‘HR & People Management’ Services, but what Value Added HR do we offer?

Ok I will try & explain ‘in a nutshell’. The following are the elements of HR & People Management, which we believe makes us extra special & positively sets us apart from others similar providers;

  • Growth & Support – We do genuinely love working with small businesses, start up’s & entrepreneurs, to help support you to grow, or maintain your business & people & to support you to be an ‘Employer of Choice’ – we celebrate with you the ‘big and the small wins’ in Partnership
  • Authentic – We are real people who have have tons of HR/People Management experience working with real people in various sectors & industries
  • HR Presence – You tell us what you want, we can be a transparent HR ‘presence’ or we can work ‘behind the scenes
  • Relationships – We really do have a sense of humour & we are great communicators, which helps us build positive relationships with our clients very quickly
  • HR Presence – You tell us what you want, we can be a transparent HR ‘presence’ or we can work ‘behind the scenes’
  • Positive Leadership – Let’s be honest here, how many poor/unfair ‘boss’s’ have you worked for or do you know? We can help coach you to be a real Leader, we can help enhance your ‘soft skills’ & ‘confidence’ which are crucial in positive leadership, ultimately leadership is ‘vision, ”building your people’, ‘inspire & influence others’ & truly ‘connecting with your team’
  • Business Plans & Strategy – We are a small business, why do we need business plans & strategy? Treat your small business as a huge corporate one, in terms of the foundations, rid yourselves of the ‘small business’ mindset (reactive) & focus on a more ‘proactive’ mindset that will enable natural business growth. Strategy is at the core & heart of every successful business, we can also help you implement your Company ‘Mission’, ‘Vision’, & Values
  • Culture – We thrive on helping you to build a positive & healthy culture; by implementing and slotting together, the various components like a jigsaw
  • Coaching – We all have that one Positive Leader who we remember more than anyone else, there will be different reasons why we credit this person, they may have helped you breakthrough or gave you that amazing opportunity, ultimately they ‘believed in you’ our point is, we can help you be that Leader, we can also love coaching those employees with ‘high potential’ & seeing them soar
  • Continuous Improvement – Is a permanent state of change, & we love it, striving to get better & better, always changing, always innovating, never boring or dull
  • Avoid Formal Processes – We like to avoid long formal process driven processes (where possible) & instead positively coach you & your managers to have the conversations that need to be held, to help your people to increase self awareness and responsibility for enhanced performance & productivity
  • Branding & Marketing & Communications – We understand your time restraints & pressures, but we love helping businesses with their branding & marketing, we are also told we are pretty good at it, we also love being the positive communicator for the business
  • Health & Wellbeing –  Healthy, happy staff are more productive, and take less time off work due to sickness. We can help to develop your wellbeing strategies
  • Team Building – We can help you build high performing teams, we will support you to implement; Accountability, SMART Goals, Performance Management, Well defined Roles, Team and Company Values, Regular f2f & team meetings
  • Technology – We embrace it, it helps us to become more strategic & bridges the communication gap, we can create accurate analytics that drive enhanced performance management
  • Training – We have an array of training experience – including Leadership, HR & People Strategy, Business Planning, Employee Wellbeing, Absence Management, Conflict Management, Data Protection/GDPR, Leading People & Great Teams, Team Values, Managing Investigations, Performance Management, Disciplinary & Grievance, Goal Setting, Branding & Marketing
  • Get to know you – We get to know you & your business inside & out including your ‘quirks’ – we all have them.

Why do you need HR as an SME or Start Up – what’s the point?

Are you clear on what steps to take as a business if facing a tribunal, unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal or whistleblowing claim?  If your answers are no, please do read on.

I spoke to an owner of a small business the other day who told me that he never gets around to doing the HR/people tasks for his staff, it always gets pushed down the priority list. His thinking was that, although he knew he had certain legal responsibilities, ‘nothing bad had happened yet’. Does that sound familiar?

There comes a point in every start-up, fledgling or growing SME where you start to consider adding positive and value added HR to your structure.

Recent Survey

A recent survey conducted by Croner among those working in SME organisations, including CEOs, MDs, finance directors, operations directors, line managers, PAs and secretaries, shows that one in 10 are spending up to 15 hours or two days a week managing HR issues.

The Top 7 common HR risks that small businesses take and what the potential penalties are for ignoring them or getting them wrong.

  1. Failure to provide written Employee Terms

Employees and workers must receive most of the information about their terms in a single “principal” document no later than when they start employment.

The employer will be ordered to pay the employee two weeks’ pay (subject to the statutory cap on a week’s pay) or, if it is just and equitable in the circumstances, a higher amount of four weeks’ pay (subject to the statutory cap). If there are exceptional circumstances where it would be unjust and inequitable to make an award against the employer, none will be made.

  1. Failing to check an employee’s right to work evidence

All employers in the UK have a responsibility to prevent illegal working. You do this by conducting simple right to work checks before you employ someone, to make sure the individual is not disqualified from carrying out the work in question by reason of their immigration status.

If you are found to be employing someone illegally and you have not carried out the prescribed checks, you may face sanctions including:

  • a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker;
  • in serious cases, a criminal conviction carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine;
  • closure of the business and a compliance order issued by the court;
  • disqualification as a director;
  • not being able to sponsor migrants;
  • seizure of earnings made as a result of illegal working; and
  • review and possible revocation of a licence in the alcohol and late-night refreshment sector and the private hire vehicle and taxi sector.
  1. Unfair Dismissal

Employers are expected to comply with the principles set out in the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures when handling disciplinary situations.

If a tribunal finds that an employee has been unfairly dismissed, you might be ordered to:

  • reinstate them (give them their job back);
  • re-engage them (re-employ them in a different job).

You might also have to pay compensation, which depends on the employee’s:

  • age;
  • gross weekly pay;
  • length of service.

You might have to pay extra compensation if you do not follow a tribunal’s order to reinstate someone.

There’s a limit on the amount a tribunal can award for unfair dismissal, apart from in cases relating to:

  • health and safety (for example where you unfairly dismiss someone for taking action on health and safety grounds);
  • whistleblowing.

Procedural failings will normally render a dismissal unfair, but compensation can be reduced in proportion to the likelihood that the dismissal would have occurred had a fair procedure been followed.

There are also some circumstances in which the minimum service requirement does not apply.

Where there has been an unreasonable failure by either party to comply with the code the tribunal may increase or decrease compensation by up to 25%, depending on which party is at fault. A failure to follow the code will not, by itself, render an employer liable to legal proceedings.

  1. Unfair Discrimination

You’re legally protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.

You’re also protected from discrimination if:

  • you’re associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, for example a family member or friend
  • you’ve complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim
  • An employee who thinks they’ve been discriminated against may raise a grievance or take their case to an employment tribunal.
  • You’re responsible for discrimination carried out by your employees unless you can show you’ve done everything you reasonably could to prevent or stop it.

There is no maximum cap on the amount of compensation that you can receive for discrimination.

  1. Lack of Company Policies & Procedures

The only express legal requirements for employers to have employment policies and procedures are as follows:

  • under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers with 5 or more employees must have a written general Health and Safety Policy; and
  • under the Employment Rights Act 1996, employers are required to give employees a written statement of the main terms and conditions of their employment, which includes the employer’s rules and procedures for dealing with both disciplinary and grievance issues

However, there are also a number of other areas where non-statutory codes of practice, designed to set out guidance as to how employers can comply with their statutory employment obligations, recommend that employers implement appropriate policies and/or procedures.

A prime example of this is the employment related code of practice issued under the Equality Act 2010, which outlaws discrimination and harassment on various grounds, including sex, race, age and religion. This code recommends that an employer should have an Equal Opportunities Policy and gives guidance as to what it should contain.

Although the code concerned does not itself have legal status, breaches of it can be taken into account by an Employment Tribunal in determining an employer’s liability for discrimination and harassment claims, and as a result employers would be wise to ensure that they have such a policy in place.

Even if stated to be non-contractual, it is very important for employers to note that an employer’s failure to follow their own policy, although not a breach of contract, will still generally be taken into account by an employment tribunal so far as it is relevant to determining the claim concerned. Tribunals will therefore expect an employer to be able to give a very good reason as to why any relevant non-contractual policy was not followed. Furthermore, it can be the case that, even if an employer states in a handbook that certain or all policies are not contractual in nature, policies can be deemed to be contractual, if other circumstances, such as custom and practice, supports that fact.

  1. Wasted Time

If you don’t handle your HR/people management responsibilities properly, you will inevitably encounter issues or complaints from your employees at some point. The management time required to sort these out is always significantly more than the time that would have been needed to do things right in the first place.

And if you are taken to an employment tribunal, the preparation required amounts to weeks of lost management time.

  1. Demotivated staff

Information about employee rights is widely available on the internet, so employees tend to be fairly clued up about their rights at work and the processes that their employers should follow. So if you don’t do things properly, your employees will more than likely know and that can lead to demotivation and lower productivity. Whereas if you treat your staff fairly and lawfully, they are more likely to be happy and productive at work.

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