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Hello 2022!

Hello 2022!
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by
Managing Director

In January 2021, I wrote an article about what the previous year had left us with and what we had to look forward to in the becoming year. I thought it would be interesting to revisit January 2021 and see how much had changed in the interim.

Before I started writing this article, I looked at the ‘Hello 2021’ blog we wrote around this time last year so I could make some comparisons. After all, the last couple of years has not been ‘normal’!

So, this time last year, we’d just secured a trade deal with the EU, vaccines were being rolled out and we were back in lockdown whilst the programme really took effect. And the furlough scheme had recently been reinstated – but it had caught out employees who had changed jobs between lockdowns.

2022 is now in its infancy and where are we now? Well, COVID had rather a significant impact on that trade deal but given the restrictions COVID inflicted, the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show UK exports to the EU have risen by 6%, or about £7bn, in the year to October compared with the same period in 2020. Yes, figures are still down on the same periods in 2018 and 2019), pre-COVID and pre-Brexit (13%, or about £18bn), but considering we’re in recovery from the worst economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s cautiously encouraging.

As for COVID – well, we’re all disappointed by the emergence of Omicron whose appearance triggered a mass boycott of hospitality and leisure venues – disastrous for this sector which was relying on Christmas sales to refill coffer reserves still reeling from the effects of lockdowns. Omicron has also seen the reintroduction of subsidized Statutory Sick Pay for small and medium-sized businesses for staff absent due to COVID and, third-round vaccinations for this virulent variant.

There are positives in the mix: the Omicron variant is looking to be milder than previous iterations so, hopefully, fatalities will remain low, and the economy can continue to recover. After the initial round of restrictions, these are now being lifted in most areas of the UK, with the legal requirement to wear face masks in public places being removed from Thursday this week. Additionally, we’ve been instructed to return to working in the office, although, on talking to friends and colleagues, the traffic carnage on the roads seems to imply this happened some time ago! This time last year, we were still all locked up tightly and, having said the restrictions would last only for a couple of weeks into January, instead they persisted through to Easter, including children being kept away from school.

As further proof of progress, the requirement to isolate following a positive COVID test has fallen dramatically from ten days to five, double vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK from overseas will no longer have to take a COVID test on return, and, perhaps surprisingly, passengers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will no longer be required to do a day eight test after arrival or self-isolate.

It’s all quite a big leap forwards from where we were this time last year. 2022 brings its own challenges from an economic point of view, particularly with vacancies running at record-high levels (Office for National Statistics). Add in the pending hike in employer’s National Insurance contributions, along with the rise in corporation tax rates business owners have to prepare for in 2023, and the rising tax on dividends and there is clearly a need for us all to be smart in our planning.

2022 also sees us celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which brings with it an extra bank holiday. Now, as an employer, how will you deal with that? What is the wording for holiday allowance in your staff’s contract of employment?

If you’re wondering what that means, why not join us for our weekly Employer’s HR Conference call on Wednesdays at 2pm? The events are free for all to join, and we cover the latest developments affecting those of us in business and with responsibility for the HR function. You can reserve your spot here.

ASL Recruitment was established in 1999 and has been serving Hastings and the surrounding area ever since placing temporary and permanent roles across a variety of sectors including Industrial and Manufacturing, Legal, Finance, Marketing, Technology and Office Support, from junior up to board level. Our co-founder and Managing Director, Jason Perry is an HR specialist and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. For further information on our recruitment or consultancy services, email  hastings@aslgroup.co.uk or call us on 01424 452999.