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HR & Employment Law Update - March 2022

01 Mar 2022

A round up of recent HR & Employment Law news.

Living with Covid  

The government last week announced its “Living with Covid” changes. The key changes are:

  • From 24 February individuals are no longer legally required to self-isolate or to tell their employers when have COVID-19. However, Employers and workers should still follow government guidance, which remains that anyone who tests positive should still isolate for at least 5 days. As self-isolation is no longer a legal requirement, employers should consider their own  workplace policies and how they may be impacted by the changes – particularly if they have employees who cannot work from home.
  • on 17‌‌‌ ‌March‌‌‌ ‌2022 the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will close meaning employers will no longer be able to claim back Statutory Sick Pay for employees with coronavirus-related absences or self-isolation that occurs after ‌17‌‌‌ ‌March‌‌‌ ‌2022.
  • from 24th March 2022, statutory sick pay rules will return to their pre-pandemic position. The change allowed for payment of SSP from day one if a worker had to isolate due to COVID-19. By reverting to the previous rules, workers must be absent from work for 4 working days before qualifying for SSP, regardless of the reason for their absence.
  • From 1 April, free testing is to be removed meaning employees may not know if they have COVID-19 or not. The government will also remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments (unless they work specifically work with COVID-19, such as in laboratories).

New ACAS guidance 

ACAS have just published new guidance to help employers deal with employees suffering a bereavement. Employers are advised to recognise that grief affects everyone differently and to tailor the support provided to a bereaved employee, both at the time of the bereavement and after they have returned to work.

It is recommended that employers have a workplace bereavement policy to cover time off and pay – please get in touch to discuss this with a member of the team.

HR Update, Employment Law

Dismissal for frivolous repeated grievances was fair 

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld a tribunal decision that it was not unfair for an employer to dismiss an employee for repeatedly raising grievances and then insisting that they be dealt with informally and failing to follow them through.  It was not unreasonable in the tribunal’s view for the employer to have concluded that the employee’s behaviour was vexatious and unreasonable, and that it was within the band of reasonable responses for the employer to treat this as a sufficient reason for dismissal.

The decision calls in to question the simplicity of the widely held position that a dismissal for conduct reasons without any formal warnings will only be fair if the conduct amounts to gross misconduct. The decision also suggests that in certain circumstances, an employer may insist that the employee either cooperates in a formal process to its conclusion or withdraws it. As such, repeated abuse of the grievance process could, depending on the circumstances, be seen as misconduct.

Should you require support with the implications of this on your business, please do not hesitate to contact the team.