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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

Employment law - what changed in 2022

Updated: May 25, 2023

Employment law changes 2022

As with everything else during the COVID pandemic, employment law stood relatively still. Change, however, started up again in 2022 and there are a lot more changes planned for 2023.

Sickness certification

All sickness absence above seven calendar days must be covered by one or more fit notes. Whereas, sickness absence of seven or less calendar days can be self-certified on an employee's return to work.

Previously, fit notes had to be physically signed by a doctor. Improvements in 2022, however, allowed a wider selection of medical professionals to be able to certify fit notes, including nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists who work in a doctor's surgery or hospital.

Health and social care levy

The Health and Social Care Levy Act 2021, brought in by Boris Johnson, was implemented from 6 April 2022 and increased national insurance contributions by 1.25%. This was Act was repealed when Boris Johnson stepped down as Prime Minister and was removed after just seven months after implementation on 6 November 2022.

Use of agency worker to cover strikes

With a wave of strikes since COVID, including university lecturers and teachers, rail workers, nurses and medics, civil servants, Royal Mail workers, firefighters and ambulance workers, the government have and are continuing to propose measure to tackle industrial action.

One major change in 2022, was the repeal of the ban on employers using agency workers to cover their striking workers. However, unions have been granted permission to raise a judicial review over the government's lack of consultation before making this change.

This year, the government have already announced that they will table further legislation to allow employers to fire striking workers in essential sectors, and sue trade union workers who refuse to deliver or fail to provide minimum levels of service. This would cover sectors such as the NHS, railways, teachers, fire brigade and the nuclear sector.

Right to work checks

Pre-COVID, right to work checks were manual checks, where the employer had to physically see and inspect original right to work documentation. During COVID legislation was temporarily changed to allow an employer to see and inspect original documents online and over e-meetings.

This temporary change finally ceased in 2022 to coincide with legislative improvements allowing employers to instruct a third-party Identity Service Provider to carry out digital identity checks for British and Irish nationals on their behalf through Identification Document Validation Technology.

It is important to note that, in addition to this legislative change, employers are no longer able to manually check biometric resident permits / card or EU settlement statuses, and must now use the online right to work checking service for these.

Exclusivity clauses

2022 saw a widening of the ban on the use of exclusivity clause. Originally this ban was aimed at protecting workers on zero-hour contracts. However, employers started to by-pass this law by offering contracts on a low minimum number of hours per week. The up-dated legislation has therefore been extended to cover contracts of employment that guarantee hours and pay that are equal to or less than the lower earnings limit.

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