The return of homeworking and changes to self-isolation rules


Return of Homeworking


The Government announcement of yesterday evening suggested a return to home working.

As with many of the government initiatives during the pandemic, the announcement was made before any regulations or revised guidelines were issued and we await the detail. Yesterday evening, it was simply stated that people are to be asked to work from home “if they can” with effect from December 13. It seems likely that the guidance which was in place up to July 2021 will be re-introduced such that anyone who can work from home should do so.


Employers were being “encouraged to use the rest of this week to discuss working arrangements with their employees”. It was said that the requirement was guidance only and not a legal requirement.


Self-isolation


The self-isolation rules have been amended in light of concerns arising from the Omicron variant of COVID-19.


The advice for employees with Covid symptoms or who have a positive test result for Covid (for any variant) remains the same - they must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days.

But the UK guidance has changed with immediate effect for people who are contacts or live in the same household as a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant. When the PCR test results are returned, it will also tell the employee if they’re suspected to have Omicron.


At that point, the new requirement is that everybody in that household and any close contacts must also self-isolate for 10 days, even if they are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18.


This advice is likely to change since ministers have suggested that they intend to change rules so contacts of confirmed Omicron cases can do daily Covid tests instead of the mandatory 10-day self-isolation period. No date has been given for this proposed change.


Christmas parties


Christmas parties have not been stopped, but employers should carefully consider the risk of transmissions occurring at an office party and the effect of staff being required to self-isolate could have on the business.


Restrictions may apply to the venue where parties are being held. From Wednesday 15 December, people will need an NHS Covid Pass - showing their vaccination status or a recent negative lateral flow test - to gain entry to:

  • Nightclubs

  • Indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people

  • Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people

  • Any venue with more than 10,000 people

The government also wants people to do a lateral flow test (LFT) before entering "a high-risk setting" - such as a crowded place - "involving people you wouldn't normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person".


It is not yet clear to what extent these rules will apply to ‘cheese and wine’ evenings held in ministerial offices!


Please contact us should you have any question arising from the above.