In Employment, HR legislation

Covid update

Covid restrictions will end in England on 24 February 2022.  People with Covid-19 symptoms will be encouraged to exercise personal responsibility

This will mean an end to the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test which in turn means that the Government will stop self-isolation support payments, although Covid provisions for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) can still be claimed for a further month.

The provision of free rapid testing would, from 1 April, be targeted to certain sections of the population. Routine contact tracing will stop and fully vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days.

From 24 February 2022, the following will apply.

  • The legal requirement to self-isolate upon a positive test will be removed. However, until 1 April 2022, those testing positive are advised to stay at home for five days.
  • Covid SSP rules will remain in place until 24 March 2022. From that date, pre-pandemic SSP rules will apply. This means that SSP will no longer be payable from day one for Covid-related absence.
  • The legal requirement for workers to inform their employer that they are required to self-isolate will be removed.

Family friendly rights

An Employment Bill was announced in 2019 and is expected to be passed in 2022. This includes the introduction of statutory neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies requiring neonatal care, and the extension of the redundancy protection period for employees on maternity leave to up to six months after they return to work.

The government has also confirmed the introduction of carer’s leave as a new statutory right and changes to harassment laws are expected in 2022 – see below.

Carer’s Leave

On 23 September 2021, the Government confirmed that it will introduce a new statutory right of up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave. It will be a “day one” right with no qualifying period of service needed. As the leave is unpaid, it is possible that many carers will continue to use annual leave because they cannot afford unpaid time off work.

The right will be introduced “when Parliamentary time allows”

Sexual Harassment

In July 2021, the Government published its response to the 2019 consultation on workplace sexual harassment. It will introduce a new duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment and re-introduce the concept of third-party harassment in the workplace (third parties will include clients, customers and members of the public). It will also look closely at the possibility of extending the three months’ time limit for workplace harassment and discrimination claims under the Equality Act 2010 to six months. The new duty will be introduced “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

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