The government has published new guidance for employers on its NHS Test and Trace service. The NHS Test and Trace service provides testing for anyone with symptoms. The service will then contact anyone with a positive test to help them share information about recent contacts and then alerts those contacts and where necessary notifies them to self-isolate.
We have set out a summary of the guidance below, however, we stress the importance for businesses to review the full guidance themselves, which can be found at the following link:
The guidance requires employers to encourage workers to comply with notifications to self-isolate and to support them when in isolation.
If an employee needs to self-isolate, their employer should:
- Not ask them to attend the workplace;
- Allow them to work from home (if they remain well and it is practicable to do so); and
- Pay them sick pay and give the option to use paid holiday if possible (as opposed to Statutory Sick Pay) for the time they’re off work.
Employees in self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for every day they are in isolation if they meet the other eligibility conditions. The NHS test and trace service will provide a notification to employees that can be used as evidence that they were told to self-isolate.
The guidance also states that:
- Employers must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance;
- If multiple cases of coronavirus appear in a workplace, an outbreak control team from either the local authority or Public Health England will, if necessary, be assigned to help the employer manage the outbreak;
- If any of the close contacts of individuals with symptoms are co-workers they may wish to ask their employer to alert those co-workers (but the employer is not obliged to); and
- The NHS COVID-19 app is still being trialled so is not part of the current NHS Test and Trace service.
It is hoped that the NHS test and Trace service will benefit employers by helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces and the wider society. However, the impact on business suffering a widespread outbreak could be devastating and so we urge you to:
- Consider your COVID-19 risk assessment;
- Ensure that safe working practices are in place and adhered to;
- Update staff on recent government guidance about symptoms and self- isolation;
- Consider how you will respond to requests to take annual leave rather than SSP; and
- Consider how you will retain evidence of staff being required to self-isolate due to track and trace.
WBW Solicitors has offices in Newton Abbot, Paignton, Torquay, Bovey Tracey, Exeter, Launceston, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Honiton.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published on the 29/05/2020.