Here's a round-up of all the known legal changes that will (or may) affect small businesses in 2022.
Changes to 'right to work' checks
- From 6 April, if you offer work to anyone who holds a Biometric Residence Card, Biometric Residence Permit or Frontier Worker Permit, you'll need to use the Home Office's online service to check they have the right to work in the UK. For more on this, see the new Annex E in the Home Office guidance An employer's guide to right to work checks.
- The temporary checking process in place because of COVID-19 is due to end on 5 April and be replaced with a permanent online-checking solution – though the temporary process might be extended again if the solution isn't ready by then.
Increase in National Insurance contributions
From 6 April, all working adults in the UK must pay an extra 1.25% in National Insurance contributions. From 2023, this extra amount must appear on employees' payslips as a separate Health and Social Care Levy deduction.
Increases in various statutory pay rates
As well as other statutory pay rates, such as those for sick pay and family leave (maternity, paternity, adoption etc), the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wages rates will increase in April. Redundancy pay and unfair dismissal award rates will also increase on 6 April in line with the RPI.
Other possible changes
The government has confirmed that it's committed to implementing its Employment Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. The Bill includes:
- Giving employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment and potentially reducing the 3 months that the employer currently has to respond.
- Giving staff in the hospitality industry the right to keep all tips and requiring employers in this sector to have a written policy on this issue.
- Giving employees who work as unpaid carers the right to take a week of unpaid leave in any combination of days.
- Giving employees on zero-hours contracts the right after 26 weeks' service to request more secure working conditions with a predictable number of hours.
- Protecting employees from redundancy during pregnancy and for 6 months after returning from maternity leave. Employers will be required to offer them suitable alternative employment ahead of other staff.
- Giving parents of sick or premature babies the right to statutory neonatal care leave and pay.
Health & Safety
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022
From 6 April, employers in England, Wales and Scotland will have to ensure that suitable PPE is given to workers whose health and safety might be at risk while at work. Currently, this requirement only applies to employees. See the HSE guidance for more.
Making Tax Digital
From 1 April, all VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover of more than £85,000 need to follow the rules for Making Tax Digital for VAT. Under these rules, businesses must keep digital records using compatible software packages that connect to HMRC systems when submitting their VAT returns.
Plastic Packaging Tax
From 1 April, businesses will have to pay this when importing or producing plastic packaging that doesn't contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Businesses that produce or import less than 10 tonnes of plastic packaging per year are exempt.
Green Claims Code
From January, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) will enforce its Green Claims Code. The code sets out 6 key principles for businesses to follow when making environmental claims about their goods or services so that they don't mislead consumers. Businesses should check that their green claims comply or else face possible civil action or criminal prosecution.