With research continuing to  show that one of the most desired benefits wanted from work is a better balance between work and family, it is probably no surprise that some of the employment law changes due to come in to force in 2022 will be in relation to family rights.  However, as we always say, going beyond what the law requires of you can be a great driver for employee engagement.

So, what is changing?  There are some that are definite and have definite dates, and others that do not have a date yet but will be coming in to force at some point in 2022.  This blog summarises the changes and what you need to do – or indeed ask us as your trusted partner for all things people, to do for you.

Statutory Pay Rates

The rates of pay for maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption and parental bereavement pay will increase from £151.97 per week to £156.66 per week from 3 April 2022.  The practicalities of this will be dealt with by your payroll provider, but you may want to review what you pay and what is in your policies – or create policies if you do not have them!

It is a good idea to look at the demographics of your team and see if increasing the amounts of leave or pay is a viable option for your company. It could be something that a lot of people would appreciate, allowing them to enjoy the special time, or in some cases to grieve.  For example, many of our clients offer full pay for all of paternity leave, it does not add a lot to the pay bill but can make a huge difference to the team member receiving it.

Family friendly rights

First announced in 2019, it is expected that a new Employment Bill will finally be passed this year. It includes the following proposed measures:

  • Statutory neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies requiring specialist care. This means that those who spend the first few weeks of their baby/ies’ lives in hospital then get extra leave to enjoy their time at home once that happens.  Eligibility and pay entitlements are likely to be the same as other statutory leave.
  • Redundancy protection for employees on maternity leave to be extended to up to 6 months after their return to work.

You need to review your policies in these two areas, adding neonatal leave to your maternity and paternity leave policies, and as with the above, consider what you will pay if willing to go above statutory.  Once again, this is not something you will need to pay often and would really make team members feel valued if they do not need to worry about money at such a sensitive time.  You also need to update your redundancy policy to reflect the protection.

Carers leave

The Employment Bill proposed a new right to carers leave that will apply from day one of employment and will be up to one week (five working days) per year (which can be taken as half or full days).

To be eligible, employees will have to have caring responsibilities (defined the same as for the right to time off for dependants) and the person they care for have a long-term care need.

Its purpose will be to provide care or make arrangements for the provision of care. There will be no right to pay for this time off.

This change will require a change to your Carer’s leave policy and once again a decision on whether you will pay this leave, despite there being no right to pay.

Possible changes to Flexible Working

Although this is not restricted to family needs, it is still the most common reason behind flexible working requests.  Government consultation into changes to flexible working regulations closed on 1 December 2021, with changes to the regulations expected in 2022.   The potential changes are:

  • making the Right to Request Flexible Working a day one right (currently 26 weeks)
  • reviewing whether the eight business reasons for refusal are still valid
  • requiring employers to suggest alternatives when refusing a request
  • allowing employees to make multiple requests
  • questioning if the three-month timeframe to deal with a request is still appropriate
  • considering requests for temporary or informal flexible-working arrangements.

At the moment no changes are needed to your policies until the changes are confirmed and made a legal requirement.  However, this does not mean that you cannot get ahead of the curve and implement these sooner if you feel they would be of value to your teams.