The Government has today announced that from this Thursday:
employees testing positive for COVID-19 shall no longer be required to self-isolate;
routine contact tracing through the tack and trace network shall end; and
Self-isolation support payments available to those forced to self-isolate will also come to an end.
From 24 March 2022, SSP for employees testing positive (which is currently payable from day one of any absence and can be reclaimed from the government for up to 2 weeks SSP) shall also end. These changes apply to England only and are likely to apply to most sectors. This means that, from Thursday:
staff with COVID-19 are not legally obliged to tell their employers they have COVid-19 and were required to self-isolate;
staff with COVID-19 can attend work;
if an employer requires employees testing positive for COVID-19 or with symptoms of COVID-19 to refrain from attending work, they are likely to be entitled to full pay; and
from 24 March, ordinary SSP or company sick pay will be payable for any absences caused by COVID-19, at the cost of the employer.
Employers should consider if they want employees to attend work if they test positive for or have COVID-19 symptoms. If employees who test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms want to attend work or are unable to work from home, it is likely that they will be entitled to full pay if an employer requires them to refrain from attending the workplace.
From 1 April, the Government will remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments and will replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance. Employers should continue to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
From 1 April free COVID-19 testing will also end to the general public, although testing may still be available to those who are vulnerable and in specific sectors (likely those working in the health and social care sectors). It is expected that tests will still be available for sale privately, and employers may wish to consider obtaining test kits in advance of 1 April in order to be able to conduct workplace testing.
Further details of the above changes are expected in the coming days.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding these changes.