Here we look at the test and trace system implemented in England and what employers’ responsibilities are to staff self-isolating as a result of coming into contact with someone who has Coronavirus.
What are the self-isolating requirements of the Test and Trace Scheme?
The test and trace scheme was officially launched in England at the end of May.
As a result, staff may need to self-isolate for a number of reasons:
- They display symptoms of Coronavirus
- Live with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus
- Are in a support bubble with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus
- Receive a positive test for Coronavirus
- Live with or are in a support bubble with someone who has a positive test for Coronavirus
- If they are informed that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.
14 days is the typical time period that people will need to self-isolate for in the above situations.
For more information on exactly what to do in any of these situations, including how long to self-isolate for then refer to the NHS test and trace advice.
What are employer responsibilities to staff who are self-isolating?
Government advice states that employers have a vital role to play in supporting the test and trace scheme. Something which is seen as key to enabling recovery and a return towards normality.
As an employer you are encouraged to:
- Make your workplace as safe as possible in the first instance (Covid Secure)
- Encourage workers to heed self-isolation notifications
- And to support staff self-isolating
If staff do need to self-isolate, then you must not ask them to attend the workplace. Instead allow them to work from home where possible. Even if this means finding alternative tasks which can be completed from home.
If employees cannot work from home, then you must ensure that staff self-isolating are receiving sick pay. Or that they know they can use their paid holiday days if preferred
Employers are also advised to continue to communicate with staff self-isolating and to continue to support them.
How much pay am I entitled to if I have to self-isolate?
If staff are able to work from home and remain well enough to work from home whilst self-isolating, then normal pay should continue.
For those who cannot work from home, staff self-isolating are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for every day they are in isolation.
Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees for reasons related to Coronavirus can be claimed back if certain eligibility criteria are met.
The NHS test and trace scheme provides a self-isolation notice which proves the need to self-isolate and will be required if, as an employer, you intend to claim back SSP from the government.
As an employer you can choose to pay full sick pay for the period of self-isolation. But you will only be able to claim the current rate of SSP back.
If staff choose to use their holiday allowance to cover the period of self-isolation, then they are entitled to full pay for the duration of the leave.
Refer here for full workplace guidance relating to the NHS track and trace scheme and employer responsibilities to staff self-isolating.
How do you communicate and manage self-isolating policies in the workplace?
It is probably advisable to create a written document relating to your policy with regards to staff who need to self-isolate. This can then be circulated and accessed in the same way that your other policies would be.
Have open communication with your employees and show that you are supportive of those who need to self-isolate. Make your staff feel comfortable in the knowledge that should they be asked to self-isolate, they won’t be penalised for this and that as an employer you are in full support of the track and trace scheme. Coronavirus is presenting an unsettling environment for many so having the full support of employers will be vital in giving individuals the confidence to follow government guidelines.
As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees to provide a safe working environment. Providing support and guidance to employees during Covid-19 is a key element of this.
If you have any questions about business insurance then get in touch with us at Anthony Jones. We are working and available to answer any questions you may have. We are also updating our blog with information relating to Coronavirus that we think may be relevant to small business owners so do check there for updates.