Boris Johnson has confirmed that all legal restrictions on Covid will come to an end in England on 24th February. This means that individuals who test positive for Covid-19 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate. For now, individuals who test positive will still be advised to stay at home for at least five days. This guidance will end from 1st April and change to advising that people with Covid symptoms will be asked to “exercise personal responsibility”.
Living with Covid Plan
As part of the ‘Living with Covid’ plan, an end to several support packages have been confirmed.
- From 24th February, the £500 payment for those on low incomes who test positive for Covid-19 will end.
- Routine contact tracing will no longer take place, and workers will no longer be required to tell their employers if they have to self-isolate.
- From 24th March, employees with Covid will no longer be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from day-one of their illness. SSP will only be paid on the fourth consecutive day of illness.
- From 1st April, the government will no longer provide universal free testing in England. From this date employers will also no longer have to explicitly consider Covid in their risk assessments.
The Business Impact
Organisations are encouraged to keep an “open dialogue” with team members, including considering the continuation of existing practices to keep workplaces safe, such as good ventilation, cleaning and sanitation.
Considering the introduction of Covid Policies will differ per organisation, and a sound business case to explain very clearly why a Covid isolation policy is needed, such as to protect vulnerable staff or clients. A Covid policy will need to be carefully considered, including areas such as:
- What to do if an employee has symptoms
- What if an employee refuses a test
- Who will pay for the test
- How long the employee must remain away from work if they are positive
- What an employee will get paid while they remain away from work
- What the implications are of an employee not abiding by the rules
Remember, employees who feel they are in serious and imminent danger in the workplace can exercise their right to refuse to come in. Plus, dismissing them for refusing to come into work can lead to successful claims for automatic unfair dismissal, regardless of length of service.