For the first time since the outbreak of the covid pandemic, 2022 was a return to relative normality, and a refocus on general employment laws. As a result, we saw a number of new rights introduced, removed, and proposed, making it a busy year for legal changes that members have had to keep up with.
In our article below, we summarise the main changes that happened last year.
Since 1 July 2022, a wider group of medical professionals have been able to issue fit notes. Already from 1 April 2022 fit notes no longer had to be physically signed by a doctor, and from 1 July nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists could certify and issue fit notes. However, this does not mean that it is now possible to visit a local pharmacy and come away with a fit note: they still can only be issued by one of the above professionals working in a hospital or clinical setting, such as a doctor’s surgery.
Employment related payments
2022 also saw the introduction, and swift repeal, of the “health and social care levy”. This 1.25% increase to national insurance contributions, brought in on 6 April 2022, was designed to fund the NHS, health and social care. Once Boris Johnson resigned, however, Liz Truss, during her brief tenure as Prime Minister, was quick to undo this, and it was removed from 6 November.
Agency workers allowed to cover for striking workers
The government proposed a number of ways to tackle industrial action, and there are still plans that may yet come into place, such as minimum staffing levels for national infrastructure during strike action. One major change that did come in from 1 July was the repeal of the ban on employers using agency workers to cover for striking workers.
How long this change will remain in place is unclear, as unions have been granted permission to raise a Judicial Review of this law over the lack of consultation prior to its introduction. The outcome of this could mean a repeal of this change, and a return to the previous position.
Right to work checks go digital (permanently)
Another piece of law that came into force last year was one that enabled employers to instruct a third-party Identity Service Provider (IDSP) to carry out digital identity checks for British and Irish nationals, through the use of Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT). This put the temporary measures introduced during covid on a permanent footing, albeit in a changed format.
Ban on exclusivity clauses extended
A further legal change that was introduced, on 5 December, was the extension of the ban on the use of exclusivity clauses in contracts that guarantee the employee equal to or less than the lower earnings limit, currently set at £123. This ban means that employers who were trying to circumvent the pre-existing ban for zero hours contracts by guaranteeing a small number of weekly hours could no longer do so and opens up a group of employees to a range of new employment opportunities.
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