As Covid restrictions relax across the UK, how does this affect HR? Read our latest FAQs
This guidance examines how Co-operatives UK members can approach situations linked with Covid-19. We examine important issues including leave and pay - and provide responses to the most frequently asked questions.
In February 2022 Government announced that the removal of the legal requirement to self-isolate from 24 March 2022.
- There is no legal requirement for people to stay at home or refrain from work.
- The guidance still remains the same – meaning that people are advised to isolate for the relevant periods which were previously in place as a legal requirement.
- The guidance itself will change on 1 April 2022.
- Employers will still need to manage risks in the workplace associated with COVID-19 and in many circumstances may wish to continue to ask employees to refrain from coming into work.
Read our blog about how this might work in practice.
From 24 February 2022 there is no longer any requirement to isolate where you have COVID-19, live with someone who has COVID-19 or were a close contact.
The guidance however remains similar to the previous legal requirements except the close contact isolation recommendation has been removed.
The guidance that you should to self-isolate may be triggered in four circumstances:
- Developing symptoms (high temperature, a new, continuous cough or who have lost their sense of smell or taste, or it’s changed)
- A positive test result
- Living with someone with symptoms or who has a positive test result
In England, if you are notified that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you are advised to simply follow the same guidance as everyone else. Note that from 24 February 2022 the Government’s test and trace scheme has closed. The guidance regular testing on a lateral flow device, stay at home if you develop symptoms, wear a mask in private place, work from home if you can etc. Read the guidance.
Those testing positive
Regardless of your vaccination status, if you have tested positive the guidance states that you can end isolation after six days provided you take a lateral flow device test on days five and six and they both provide a negative result. If one of those is still positive, you can end isolation on days seven, eight or nine once you have two consecutive days showing negative results. Those ending isolation early are still advised to limit social contacts, particularly with vulnerable people. In the absence of two consecutive negative tests on days six to 10, the recommended isolation period remains 10 days.
Remember this is now best practice as opposed to a legal requirement
It is always advisable to check the government guidance.
A notification or ‘ping’ from the app does not trigger the legal obligation to self-isolate.
Routine contact tracing has now ended.
Quarantine requirements have been removed.
Testing obligation remain for unvaccinated people (unless travelling from Russia or the Ukraine).
Any employee showing symptoms or testing positive for coronavirus will need to remain isolated from the community and not come to work. They should be treated as being sick for the purposes of sick pay, even if in the normal course of things they wouldn’t be considered sufficiently unwell so as to necessitate being off work. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and contractual sick pay will need to be considered, together with any provisions you have at present or develop for special paid leave. If you are unsure which to operate in particular circumstances, take advice.
If you have tested positive the guidance states that you can end isolation after six days provided you take a lateral flow device test on days five and six and they both provide a negative result. If one of those is still positive, you can end isolation on days seven, eight or nine once you have two consecutive days showing negative results. Those ending isolation early are still advised to limit social contacts, particularly with vulnerable people. In the absence of two consecutive negative tests on days six to 10, the recommended isolation period remains 10 days.
Remember this is now best practice as opposed to a legal requirement.
- Until 24 March 2022, if you are isolating you will qualify for Statutory Sick Pay.
- After 17 March, small employers will no longer be able to reclaim 2 weeks sick pay for Coronavirus cases, and any claims must be in by 24 March 2022.
- From 24 March you will only qualify for SSP if you are unwell. This means no SSP if you are asymptomatic but have tested positive.
There is a gap in the current guidance; it is not clear whether or not SSP will continue to apply from the first day of absence for people off ill with the virus.
If your company sick pay is linked to SSP, that might not be triggered either.
Unless you are prepared to pay you sick pay or some discretionary isolation pay, if people are not unwell staying off work could mean a loss of pay.
Some people may insist on coming to work, so they do not lose pay, but their employer may wish to keep the employee’s other colleagues and customers safe and require them to stay at home.
Others might not wish to use up some of their sickness allowance if they are not unwell.
Employer’s will no doubt continue until 1 April 2022 to apply policies which reflect the current guidance, even though there are no mandatory laws applying now.
If an employee is wishing to work, but is required to remain at home by their employer, then the general rule is that they should be paid. Tke specific advice in these circumstances.
Please note that the guidance concerning isolation will change further on 1 April 2022.
Further advice and guidance
- Read the government's guidance on the Covid-19 pandemic
- The NHS has issued advice to the public on how to avoid the spread of infections such as coronavirus, together with symptoms to look out for
- XpertHR have developed some information for employers on infectious diseases, including a number of frequently asked questions relating to how employers should protect their business and workforce from the coronavirus.
- Acas has published some advice for employers and employees on handling coronavirus at work
- There is further guidance on the World Health Organisation website.