April 2022 employment law changes: Six tasks for HR

HR professionals must ensure that their organisation is on top of the raft of employment law developments in April 2022. These changes include rises in national minimum wage rates, gender pay gap reporting deadlines, increases to statutory redundancy pay and maternity pay, and the end of HMRC's IR35 enforcement "grace period".

30 March / 4 April: Publish your gender pay gap report

Organisations have 12 months to publish their gender pay gap figures from the relevant snapshot date - 31 March for the public sector and 5 April for the private and voluntary sectors.

This means that the gender pay gap reporting deadline is 30 March 2022 for public-sector employers and 4 April 2022 for private-sector and voluntary-sector employers.

Organisations must publish reports on their website and on the gender pay gap reporting portal on the GOV.UK website.

Employers can choose to provide a narrative around any gender pay gap, including providing an explanation for their pay gap and setting out what steps they are taking to reduce the gap.

1 April: Comply with national minimum wage rises

The rates of the national minimum wage increase on 1 April 2022. The hourly rates of the minimum wage increase from:

  • £8.91 to £9.50 for workers aged 23 and over (the national living wage);
  • £8.36 to £9.18 for workers aged 21 or 22;
  • £6.56 to £6.83 for workers aged 18 to 20;
  • £4.62 to £4.81 for workers aged under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age; and
  • £4.30 to £4.81 for apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship.

Employers should check their pay rates against the new minimum wage rates and ensure that, where necessary, they increase remuneration for the first pay reference period beginning on or after 1 April 2022.

The weekly rates of statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental and parental bereavement pay increase to £156.66, up from £151.97. The increases takes effect on the first Sunday in April, which in 2022 is 3 April.

The weekly rate of statutory sick pay also rises on 6 April 2022. The new rate is £99.35, up from £96.35.

It is up to HR to make sure that staff on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement leave, and staff on sick leave, are paid these statutory minimum rates.

HR professionals also need to review their policies and documents that mention the rates, such as their maternity policies and sickness absence procedures.

6 April: Review your organisation's IR35 compliance

The extension of the IR35 rules on off-payroll working to the private sector took effect on 6 April 2021. However, HMRC stated that it would be taking a light touch to enforcement penalties during the first 12 months of the new rules, unless it had evidence of deliberate non-compliance.

What else is happening?

Three-month apprenticeship arrangements introduced (6 April 2022)

Employment tribunal award limits increase (6 April 2022)

State pension rates increase (11 April 2022)

Under the rules, the organisation engaging the contractor is responsible for determining their employment status and assessing whether IR35 applies. If IR35 does apply, the organisation that pays the individual's fees is deemed to be their employer for tax and national insurance purposes.

Organisations should bear in mind that the enforcement "grace period" no longer applies from 6 April 2022. In any event, they should be regularly reviewing status determinations to ensure that they are still accurate.

The first anniversary is therefore a good time for organisations to review their IR35 compliance and update status determinations where necessary.

6 April: Be aware of changes to right to work checks

Legal timetable

XpertHR's legal timetable provides summaries of pending employment laws and regulations, with implementation dates.

Employers can carry out a document (eg passport) check or, depending on the circumstances, use the Home Office online right to work service. For document checks, original documents must normally be seen but a temporary relaxation has allowed employers to make checks remotely because of the pandemic. This temporary measure was due to expire on 6 April 2022 but has now been extended to the end of September 2022.

Some individuals, namely British and Irish citizens, cannot evidence their right to work through the Home Office online service so the employer has to carry out a document check. A digital identity checking service is being introduced so that British and Irish citizens with a valid passport or Irish passport card are able to evidence their identity remotely even when the coronavirus relaxation ends. Employers still have the option of carrying out manual checks of original documents instead.

The new service is provided via certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) providers, acting on behalf of employers, although employers have to make sure that their provider is certified to meet required standards. While the legislation introducing the new arrangements is due to come into effect on 6 April, it is not known if the systems will be up and running by then.

Also from 6 April, holders of a biometric residence card, biometric residence permit or frontier worker permit have to use the Home Office online service to evidence their right to work. Physical cards are no longer acceptable for right to work checks.

6 April: Update your statutory redundancy pay calculations

New limits on employment statutory redundancy pay come into force on 6 April 2022.

Employers that dismiss employees for redundancy must pay those with two years' service an amount based on the employee's weekly pay, length of service and age.

The weekly pay is subject to a maximum amount, which is £571 from 6 April 2022 (increasing from £544).

HR professionals should ensure that calculations for statutory redundancy payments are made on the basis of this new maximum amount for redundancy dismissals on or after 6 April 2022.