The new year can mean a new start for many – whether that be new year resolutions, a new hobby, perhaps a new house or a new job! For some, it can be an exciting time, and for others, it’s a time where they need extra support to look to the year ahead. Following an uncertain, and for some, overwhelming, end to 2021, supporting employees to look positively to 2022 will be especially important.
Updated guidance and restrictions in relation to Covid-19 was expected by many of us following the Christmas period. However, though there have been changes issued by the devolved Governments, there has been little change in England for the time being. This in itself will have mixed feelings from the public and employers should take into consideration the differing views that surround this, thinking of the best way to support individuals.
Current guidance (in both England & Wales) advises the public to work from home if they can. Employers need to be mindful of how this may affect their employee’s wellbeing. For some, they may be doing this already, or be hybrid working between home and the workplace, but for others, it may be another complete change. Whilst some employees may be happy to work from home, some may be worried about feeling isolated from their colleagues and their career support networks. It will be important for employers to reassure employees that they will be supported, and implement ways they can regularly stay in touch. Employee Assistance Programmes will provide vital support for colleagues who are struggling, so employees should be reminded of this service, where it be in place.
In other news, there has been a recent update to statutory sick pay guidance meaning that employees who went off sick from work after 10th December 2021 can only be requested to provide proof of sickness (such as a fit note) after 28 days. This is to give GPs more time to work on the Covid- 19 Booster vaccination programme.
There have also been some recent updates to self-isolation rules whereby the 10-day period can be cut to 7 days with 2 negative lateral flow tests taken on days 6 and 7. Rules are regularly reviewed and can be different in certain situations, so it is important that employers are up to date with the latest government advice.
Other things to watch out for in 2022
- A new statutory code of practice is expected to support the duty to prevent sexual harassment. Draft legislation is yet to be published but is also expected during 2022
- An increase to statutory weekly rates from April 2022
- A new Employment Bill is likely to see some progress during 2022, covering topics such as additional redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents, unpaid carers leave, neonatal leave & pay, and changes to flexible working rights