Self-isolation: BPE Solicitors look at what should businesses be aware of?

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Thomas Lattimore BPE

From Thursday 24 February 2022, people who test positive for Covid are no longer legally required to self-isolate. Until 1 April 2022, those with a positive test will still be advised to stay at home but after this people will be expected to decide themselves as to whether they should isolate from others or not.

Thomas Lattimore from the Employment team at BPE Solicitors reviews recent changes to self-isolation and how this will affect businesses.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

The SSP Rebate Scheme ends on 17 March 2022 and employers will no longer be able to claim back SSP for their employee’s coronavirus-related absences/self-isolation after this date. Employers should therefore use the scheme over the next month or so as the deadline to submit/amend claims, for absences up to 17 March 2022 is 24 March 2022.

Currently, SSP can be claimed from the first day of incapacity for Covid related absences.  From 24 March 2022 employers will need revert back to paying SSP from the fourth qualifying day that their employee is not able to attend work, regardless of the reason for their absence.

What implications does this have for businesses?

Pay

From 24 February 2022, employers may well find themselves in a position where an employee tests positive for Covid and returns to the workplace. Under general employment law, where a worker is willing and able to work, the employer must provide work for the worker and pay them in full. Not to do so would be a breach of contract.

Health and Safety

An employer may feel that they should not allow an employee with Covid into the workplace in order to protect other workers, especially vulnerable workers with underlying health conditions.

Employers can create their own policies to protect staff and customers such as requesting that where staff test positive or if they are symptomatic, they should not come into work. This will become more complicated when free tests are no longer available.  Care should be taken in implementing other methods of screening such as temperature testing as this not currently recommended by the government or the World Health Organisation.

Notifying employers

From 24 February 2022, workers will no longer need to notify their employers if they test positive for COVID. If an employer decided to only pay those who are self-isolating SSP, employees may not inform their employer of their Covid status to ensure that they receive full pay.

The position post 1 April 2022 is expected to be more transparent. We are expecting  the government to remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider Covid in their risk assessments, and new public health guidance is expected.

Quick checklist:

  1. Review your sickness absence policy
  2. Review/implement a policy to protect individuals if an employee tests positive
  3. Finalise claims under the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme by 24 March 2022;

A more in depth analysis of this issue can be found here and the government’s latest guidance, Living with Covid-19, can be found here

For more information on this or any other Employment Law matter, contact Thomas Lattimore at Thomas.lattimore@bpe.co.uk or call 01242 248476. 

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