The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020 and apply to England only. The purpose of these powers is to save lives by protecting the public and the NHS. They set out mandatory periods for self-isolation and a duty to notify the Secretary of State of the names of people in the same household of anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 including those who:
- Received a positive Covid-19 test;
- Live with someone who has tested positive or has Covid-19 symptoms; or
- Have been told to self-isolate through the NHS Test and Trace system.
They have been subject to several amendments since they came into force including the most recent, effective from 28 September 2020:
What do employers need to know?
Under Regulation 7, it is also an offence for employers to knowingly allow one of their workers or agency workers to go 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). If an employer fails to do this, then they could receive a fine of at least £1,000.
If you know a worker has tested positive (or lives with someone who has tested positive), it is your responsibility to prevent them from working other than from home (or the place they are self-isolating which may be the home of a friend or relative or accommodation provided to them). During self-isolation there are limited reasons why someone may be able to leave their premises, and work is not included in those exceptions.
Workers are obligated to inform their employers if they have to self-isolate under Regulation 8 and any individual who breaches self-isolation will, normally, commit a separate criminal offence.
Those who break the new self-isolation rules could face fines starting at £1,000, rising up to £10,000 for repeat offenders. The employer is not responsible for the worker’s breach of the self-isolation rules unless he is out and about for a purpose related to his employment.
There is nothing in these regulations that prevents a self-isolating worker from carrying out his activities at home or the employer from requiring compliance with all and any other incidental obligations of his doing that work, except anything requiring the worker to leave his designated place of self-isolation.
Test and Trace Support Payment scheme
Those who are required to self-isolate, on low incomes and unable to work from home will be provided with financial support through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme which provides a one-off payment of £500.
If you have any questions about workers self-isolating and the impact on you as an employer, please contact us to have a chat.