On 28th September, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force.

The Regulations require all workers to notify their employer if they are required to self-isolate and they are due to undertake any work from a location that is not where they are self-isolating. This will usually be the employee’s home, so the Regulations would prevent employees from attending any other place to work including site meetings, client offices as well as the employer’s location.

Obligation to self-isolate

The Regulations require self-isolation where an employee is informed by an NHS or Local Authority worker or representative that:

  1. they have tested positive for Covid-19 such that they are within an isolation period;
  2. they have had close contact after 28 September with someone who has tested positive such that they are within an isolation period; or
  3. a child (under 18s) for whom the employee is responsible has tested positive such that they are within an isolation period; or
  4. a child for whom the employee is responsible has had close contact with someone who has tested positive such that they are within an isolation period.

The Regulations also refer to further potential notifications from the Secretary of State as yet unspecified.

Self-isolation period

Generally, an employee with Covid-19 is required to self-isolate for a period of 10 days from the date of receipt of the positive test result. An employee who has come into close contact with somebody who has received a positive test result for Covid-19, must self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the later of (a) 5 days before the date of the close contact’s positive test result, or (b) from the date on which the close contact first reported symptoms of Covid-19.

Obligations of Employer

Under section 7 of the Regulation, an employer cannot knowingly allow a self-isolating employee to attend any place other than their isolation location for any purpose related to the worker’s employment. If an officer of any business consents to a breach that obligation or if any breach is attributable to their negligence, then that individual officer and the business will have committed a criminal offence.

Obligations of Employee

Under section 8 of the Regulation, a self-isolating employee who is (a) aware of the requirement to self-isolate and (b) due to work during the self-isolation period other than at their designated isolation location, they must notify their employer of a requirement to self-isolate and the start and end date of the isolation period. Any breach of this obligation is a criminal offence subject to a fine.

Fines for breaking self-isolation rules

Fines for both employees and employers breaking the new self-isolation rules range from £1,000 to £10,000.  Under section 7 of the Regulations, it is also an offence for employers to knowingly allow one of their workers or agency workers to work anywhere other than where the person is self-isolating. This means that employers who know their employees should be self-isolating will be responsible for preventing them from working (except where they can work from home).

Talk to an employment solicitor who can help with your options.

Being prepared and having a range of options that are legal and acceptable to staff going forward, is the responsible thing to do.

A good employment solicitor will help human resource managers, and business owners get the right processes in place to ensure there are no legal mistakes being made. 

Speak to Justin Sadler, Employment and Contract Solicitor at Barrett and Co Solicitors LLP Reading, on 0118 958 9711 or email [email protected]andCo.co.uk.

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