What does ‘Living with COVID’ mean for the workplace?

Blog Posted: Thursday 10th March 2022 by

On the 21st of February, the Government published its strategy for living with COVID-19 which outlines the plan to scrap all remaining restrictions in the UK. Although this plan marks the end of chopping and changing rules, it has also put a lot of responsibility on businesses to implement the strategy and ensure that staff are kept safe.

So, we have set out below the Government’s Living with COVID-19 plan, along with information, advice, and guidance for employers.

The Government plan is as follows:

24th February 2022

  1. Individuals are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with an infected person, whether they are vaccinated or not.
  2. Employers are also no longer legally required to notify their employer that they have to self-isolate. However, those who are infected are still ‘advised’ to stay at home but, if after five days they have a negative lateral flow test result on two consecutive days, they “can safely return to their normal routine”.

24th March 2022

  1. The modifications to the statutory sick pay rules, that apply where an employee’s incapacity for work is due to COVID-19, will end. Employees with coronavirus may still qualify for statutory sick pay, subject to the pre-covid SSP rules.

1st April 2022

  1. There will no longer be a requirement for most employers to consider COVID-19 when carrying out risk assessments.
  2. The current ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be replaced with the new public health guidance – employers should continue to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, and serious illness from COVID-19.

The Government have removed all the COVID-19 self-isolation laws, employers will now be responsible of managing COVID-positive employees. This can be a tricky situation when trying to balance living with COVID-19 and ensuring the safety of employees.

As more people return to the office, your staff might want to avoid individuals who attend the workplace whilst positive for Covid-19 because they feel it is unsafe. Employers have a legal obligation to help these workers and manage risks to individuals impacted by their business.

How you can support your employees through ‘Living with COVID’.

Implement your own self-isolation policy: If you believe that majority of your employees are worried about the government’s new plan, you can take more vigorous action. Employers may impose their own restrictions on workplace attendance for individuals who test positive for Covid-19 despite the end of the legal obligation to self-isolate. For example:

“Employees who test positive with COVID-19 must work from home until a negative test is taken”

You may also want to make changes to ‘contractual’ sick pay in employment contracts or your workplace policies.

Health and Safety: From the 1st  of April, employers will no longer need to consider COVID-19 when carrying out risk assessments. However, you may still want to do this to ease employees who are anxious to come back in without the enforced rules. This could include identifying poorly ventilated areas and taking steps to improve airflow in these areas. You may also want to keep face-coverings, hand sanitation stations, one-way systems, and any other measure you feel is needed.

We hope that with the elimination of COVID-19 restrictions we come to the end of these difficult times but please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries. We can help you with any policy, contract or handbook drafting and give support wherever you may need. 

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