An important update for employers
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Government continues to implement new rules and restrictions. In addition to the new job support scheme announced on Friday (see below), the latest addition is a set of new regulations which came into force last night.
The new Heath Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 deal with the issue of self-isolation and they impose mandatory requirements on employers, with significant financial penalties for any breach.
In summary, the regulations make it a legal requirement for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, or has close contact with someone who has tested positive, to self-isolate for a specific period. However, the important thing for employers to note is that the regulations then state that where an employer knows that someone is required to self-isolate, they must not knowingly allow the worker to attend any place other than where the worker is self-isolating. The employer is therefore responsible for stopping the worker from working, unless they can work from home. Any failure to do so could result in a fine of at least £1,000 for the defaulting employer.
Where this happens, employers will no doubt question what they have to pay the self-isolating worker. For our latest briefing on this, click here.
What should you do?
As always, to help demonstrate compliance with the regulations, we recommend that where an employer is notified by a worker that they need to self-isolate, they formally instruct the worker, in writing, not to attend any place for work purposes.
Helpfully for employers, the regulations also made it a legal requirement for workers to tell their employer that they are self-isolating, and confirm the start and end dates, by no later than when they are next due into work. It will be a criminal offence for them not to do so and/or for them to not to self-isolate when they should be. They too can find themselves liable for a hefty fine if they are in breach. Workers are unlikely to know about this legal obligation and so if you have not already done so, we recommend employers notify their staff, in writing, about the need to promptly inform them if they are self-isolating.
Job support scheme
As has already been widely publicised and welcomed by many, the Government has also announced a new job support scheme to replace the current furlough scheme. The new scheme will commence on 1 November 2020 and will be available for all employers, large and small, whose businesses have been financially impacted by the pandemic for an initial period of 6 months. For a useful summary of the new scheme, click here.
This summary guidance note reflects our interpretation of the guidance at the time of writing. It should not be seen as a substitute to full legal advice and we would always recommend taking advice on your specific circumstances.
Need some advice on the new regulations and managing your workforce, we’re here to help – get in touch.