Employers face up to £10k fine for failing to prevent workers who should be self-isolating from returning to work

Blink and you might have missed this, but did you know that as of Monday, 28 September 2020, the government introduced new legislation (The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020) imposing a legal obligation on employers to ensure that the staff they know have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with somebody who has, do not attend the workplace.

Key points to note:-

  • Failure to comply with this new law is a criminal offence – workers and organisations could face a fine of £1k for their first offence, up to £10k for repeated infringements
  • Workers are now also under an obligation to inform their employer if they have to self-isolate, and face a £50 fine if they fail to tell their employer about this
  • Workers would under a duty to go home immediately if they received a call from a contact tracer or a test result text message while at work
  • Those on lower incomes who are self-isolating, unable to work from home and have lost income as a result, may be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment
  • Those who have been told to self-isolate from Monday (28 September) will receive backdated payments once the scheme is set up in their local authority – expected by 12 October
  • Employers will be at risk if they break the law without unreasonable excuse

What steps could you be taking:-

  • Be alert to any staff that are showing signs of COVID -19 and/or have mentioned to their manager that they have tested positive, either in the workplace, or whilst they have been working from home
  • Consider setting up a dedicated telephone line so that employees can use it to inform you that they are self-isolating to ensure that the message is being given directly to HR
  • Once an employee has confirmed they are self-isolating, ensure you have taken the necessary steps to inform anyone in the workplace that might have been in contact with the employee so that they can also take the necessary steps
  • Consider updating or creating a COVID-19 policy on self-isolation and the employees’ obligations, so that everyone is aware what their duties are under the new rules
  • Remind employees that are self-isolating that they need to remain at home and cannot attend the workplace
  • Offer employees support from a well-being perspective during a period of self-isolation, particularly if it is going to impact them financially – more often than not, the reason why employees choose not self-isolate will be down to the loss of their salary
  • For employees that fail to abide by their obligations, considering taking a stricter approach i.e. disciplinary action
If you have questions on the new rules and its impact on you, please feel free to contact us or join our webinar on Tuesday at 11 – registration link below: