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COVID restrictions relaxed and the impact on the workplace

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COVID restrictions relaxed and the impact on the workplace

The latest COVID guidance was released recently, which states changes to self-isolation & testing rules.

Employment Partner Paul Burton outlines the latest guidance and discusses the implications for employers.

What are the latest self-isolation rules?

From Thursday 24 February, it is no longer the law for someone to have to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID. 

So, can I go to work with covid?

This means that workers can go to work if they choose to when they have tested positive, even though the government’s guidance remains that people should isolate. 

They have said that, until 1 April, people are still advised to stay at home if they test positive.

What is the COVID guidance from April 1st?

After 1 April, when free tests for the general public will end, people with COVID symptoms will be encouraged to exercise personal responsibility.

This will be in the same way that people are encouraged to be considerate towards others when they have other conditions such as flu or a heavy cold.

Will I still be able to claim COVID-19 related Statutory Sick Pay?

From 17 March 2022 onwards, the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme closes for coronavirus related absences; with claims being able to be submitted up until 24 March 2022.

What does the latest COVID guidance mean for employers?

We advise that employers should continue to follow Government guidance up to 1 April and beyond, whilst also being committed to ensuring their workers’ health and safety as much as reasonably possible.  This includes:

  • Encourage workers who either have COVID symptoms or test positive to work from home if possible.  If not possible, ask them to utilise any contractual sick pay.   
  • While it is now not possible to force people to stay at home on a legal basis, employers can still ask workers to remain at home, even if they cannot carry out their duties, as long as they are continued to be paid.
  • If an employer will not pay for someone to stay at home, then they cannot stop workers who test positive coming in to work.  While this is far from ideal, if a worker does insist on coming into work, because they cannot afford to be off, employers should at least put in place face mask requirements, social distancing and good hand hygiene. 

What can employers do if employees don’t self-isolate?

Employers may face difficulties from other colleagues who will understandably not be happy about working near someone who they know has tested positive for COVID.

We would therefore strongly advice employers to try and use one of the alternatives, like paying contractual sick pay or asking people to work from home if possible.

Employment law advice and guidance: Stay up to date

Throughout the pandemic, our team of bright lawyers have been publishing guidance on the ever-changing regulations. The timely updates are published on our website in plain English and shared on our social media channels.

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