Employers Covid Policies

As employers should of course be aware, the remaining Covid related restrictions in England came to an end on 24 February 2022.  

This means that as there is no longer any legal requirements to either self-isolate after a positive test or (if unvaccinated) a close contact of a positive case, nor after 1 April, will there be a legal requirement for an employee to notify the employer that they have tested positive for Covid and need to self-isolate.  Employers are now in a tricky position when balancing requirements of the workplace and then need to take into account the health and safety of the workforce, and it would be sensible for employers to consider whether to bring in their own requirement for employees to notify them if they test positive for Covid.

Employers should ensure that all relevant policies have been clearly updated and decisions have been made in relation to whether an employee with a positive test result should follow usual sick policies, at what point a sick note will be required, and how long employees should remain off, if at all, particularly if there are no symptoms. Clearly if an employee is displaying symptoms they should be taking sick leave in the usual way, but there should be a clear policy in relation to employees technically fit to work but with a positive test result.

When the government’s free Covid tests come to an end on 1 April 2022 it will be even trickier for employers as it will be harder for employers to impose a testing and period of self-isolation when there are no free Covid tests for employees to use. Whilst of course employers could facilitate free testing themselves, without any legal framework to back this up, employers will find it harder to impose on staff, particularly in lines of business where risk is greatly reduced.

Also on 1 April there will no longer be any requirement for an employer to explicitly consider Covid in their health and safety risk assessments, and new public health guidance will be issued to replace the existing “Working safely” guidelines for employers.

Of less interest in a business context but to give the full picture, the additional powers given to local authorities to tackle local outbreaks also came to an end alongside contact tracing and the government's scheme to provide a £500 self-isolation support payment to those on low incomes.  

Posted on 03/16/2022 by Ortolan

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