As the 2021/2022 tax year comes to an end, there are a number of upcoming changes to employment law in April which will be of interest to people and businesses alike.

 

With so many announcements made last year which are now coming into effect, it’s not always easy to keep up with all of the changes taking place, particularly with the dominance of the media landscape by Covid-19 and Ukraine in recent times.

 

This article will act as a recap and take a look at some of the key measures coming into effect next month, as well as the flurry of changes which are set to take place once the new tax year begins on the 6th April.

 

Minimum wage and statutory rates increase

 

Among the changes to employment law are:

 

  • An increase to the national living wage (minimum wage for those 23 and older), which will rise from £8.91 to £9.50.

 

This will come into effect on the 1st April and represents a fairly significant increase from the previous figure. However with Britain facing a cost of living crisis due to inflation caused by a combination of factors such as the impact of Brexit, Covid-19, as well as the invasion of Ukraine, many are saying that this minimum wage increase doesn’t go far enough.

 

One of these is the Living Wage Foundation, which campaigns for a “real living wage”. They argue that the living wage should be £11.05 in London, while for the rest of the UK it should be £9.90 based on a calculation made according to the cost of living. A number of employers including Aviva, Nationwide, Oxfam and Everton Football Club are all accredited living wage employers.

 

Below is the full breakdown of the minimum wage increases:

 

Rate from April 2022 Current rate (April 2021 to March 2022) Increase
National Living Wage £9.50 £8.91 6.60%
21-22 Year Old Rate £9.18 £8.36 9.80%
18-20 Year Old Rate £6.83 £6.56 4.10%
16-17 Year Old Rate £4.81 £4.62 4.10%
Apprentice Rate £4.81 £4.30 11.90%
Accommodation Offset £8.70 £8.36 4.10%

 

Other employment law changes

 

As well as the change to minimum wages, a number of other measures are taking place. Among these are:

 

  • Increases to the rates of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay, statutory shared parental pay, statutory parental bereavement pay and maternity allowance – these will all increase to £156.66 p/w from the 3rd April
  • Increases to employment tribunal compensation limits – 6th April. This will increase to £93, 878 from £89,493.
  • Increases in the Vento bands for injury to feelings awards from 6th  April. The new bands will be as such: 1) lower band – £990 to £9,900 2) middle band – £9,900 to £29,600 3) upper band – £29,600 to £49,300. As well as this £49,300 and above will be for the most exceptional cases (previously £45,600 and above).
  • An increase to the rate of statutory sick pay per week from £96.35 to £99.35 from the 6th April

 

Perhaps one of the most controversial measures is the introduction of the ‘social care levy’, which will increase national insurance by 1.25% for employers, employees and the self-employed but breaks one of the pledges made in the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto. Many have criticised the Chancellor Rishi Sunak for raising the tax burden on working people during a period of time when lower earners in Britain are facing a drop in their living standards.

 

However, while this rise in National Insurance of 1.25% will impact workers, the bitter pill of a tax rise has been sweetened by the promise in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement that the National Insurance Threshold will be increasing from £9,880 to £12,570 in July. The government say that this will make the average employee £330 better off in the year from July.

 

Things to look out for during the 2022/2023 tax year

 

Looking forward to the rest of the next tax year, there are other developments in employment law which are worth bearing in mind. For example, following a consultation, the government is considering implementing a measure giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one. At present, employees have to wait 26 weeks before they are legally entitled to request flexible working.

 

There will also be a number of changes related to Covid-19, including the removal of guidance on voluntary Covid-status certification in domestic settings, as well as the removal of government recommendations for venues to use the Covid pass.

 

The Chancellor has also promised to cut the basic rate of tax from 20p to 19p in the pound by the end of the parliament in 2024. This would coincide with the timing of the next general election in what may represent an attempt to attract voters; but with the highest UK tax burden in over 70 years it will be a welcome announcement for taxpayers nonetheless.

 

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