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Comment: What employment law changes might 2022 bring?

Travlaw’s Ami Naru looks at the potential changes if the proposed Employment Bill is published this year

We’ve all got our fingers crossed for a more positive year ahead for the travel industry in 2022.

While I do not have a crystal ball, and I most certainly cannot predict what will happen on the Covid front, what I do know is that the government has been promising to publish a new Employment Bill since January 2020.

However, along came Covid, as a result of which the proposed Employment Bill has very much been on the backburner.

That said, there have been a number of recently announced consultations, which may indicate the government is now pushing ahead with its manifesto commitment to “enhance and protect” worker rights.

So what could the Employment Bill include?

  • A day one right to request flexible working and possibly reducing the three-month time limit employers have to respond to flexible working applications. Covid has without doubt changed the way we work and from where we work from. Employers and employees are having more flexible working conversations than ever before.
  • A new right to allow parents of sick and premature babies to take one week of leave and state-funded pay when their baby is in hospital.
  • New parents at risk of being made redundant may also have the right to be offered alternative employment ahead of other members of staff. This protection would be in place for an additional six months after they return to work.
  • For those with long-term caring responsibilities a new right may be introduced to one week’s unpaid leave each year, either to be taken in a block or as individual full or half days.
  • A right for all workers to request a more predictable contract. There is no disguising the fact that zero hours contracts have had much criticism, and this right is aimed at protecting those (for example) on a zero hours contract who do not know week from week what work they will be offered.
  • There has also been talk of establishing a single enforcement agency so that workers understand their legal rights and get help to enforce those rights.

Time will no doubt tell when the Employment Bill is enacted, and which elements are enshrined in law.

Some employers are already ahead of the curve and have voluntarily adopted measures to ensure they retain and attract staff in the new world of work.

We will keep you posted as and when we hear of any further developments.

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