Legal update: Changes to right to work checks and National Living Wage from April 2022


From April this year, we’ll see some changes to National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW), as well as some updates to the process for certain right-to-work checks.

Here’s what you need to know.

NLW/NMW increases

The Chancellor confirmed in the Autumn Budget last October that the government had accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission to increase the National Living Wage (payable from age 23) by 6.6% from £8.91 to £9.50 per hour.

This increase will apply to the first complete pay period from 1 April 2022 along with a range of other increases, including:

  • increasing the rate for 21- to 22-year-olds by 9.8%, from £8.36 to £9.18 per hour
  • increasing the rate for 18- to 20-year-olds by 4.1%, from £6.56 to £6.83 per hour
  • increasing the rate for 16- to 17-year-olds by 4.1%, from £4.62 to £4.81 per hour
  • increasing the rate for apprentices (under 19 or in first year) by 11.9%, from £4.30 to £4.81 per hour
  • increasing the accommodation offset rate by 4.1%, from £8.36 to £8.70 per hour

Increase to Lower Earnings Limits (LEL)

In the tax year of 2022/23, there’s also going to be an increase to the Lower Earnings Limits (LEL). This impacts on eligibility for things like Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). An employee will now need to earn at least £123 per week – up from £120 – in the eight weeks leading up to the qualifying week.

Right to work checks

Since 2018, it’s been possible for employers to check details online of some people’s right to work in the UK, including the type of work they’re allowed to do and how long they can work in the UK.

This is an alternative to manually checking their original documents, but this online service only supports some immigration statuses, like where someone has status under the EU settlement scheme.

From 6 April 2022, an Identification Document Validation Technology service will also be available, which can be used for those who can’t be checked through the Home Office online service – including British and Irish citizens.  These checks must be done through service providers who are independently certified as accredited assessors.

As well as this, from 6 April employers won’t be allowed to carry out manual checks on certain documents anymore – including a biometric residence permit, a biometric residence card, and a Frontier workers permit. Instead, you’ll have to check these using the Home Office’s online service.

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