Further guidance and regulations have been introduced for employers where employees are continuing to attend the workplace, such as public sector employees in essential services.
These FAQs have been updated to advise that employers should, in consultation with staff, consider whether staff can carry out normal duties from home and where this is possible they should not attend the workplace. Clinically vulnerable individuals should work from home if possible but can continue to attend the workplace where this is not possible if it is 'COVID-19 Secure'.
Whilst many employers had already adopted this policy, the FAQs now also specifically advise that employers will be banned from requiring that self-isolating workers come to work. The Government has also made this a legal requirement in the regulations referred to below.
New regulations came into force on 27 September 2020 in England, setting out mandatory periods for self-isolation and a duty to notify the Secretary of State with details of people who reside in the same household as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Employers should take note of Regulation 7 which makes it an offence for an employer to knowingly permit a worker or agency worker to attend any place other than the place at which they are self-isolating. This means that employers have become responsible for stopping workers from carrying out work, except at home, where they are aware that the worker has tested positive or lives with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The fine for employers who fail to do this starts at £1,000.
The onus is also on the worker, under regulation 8, to notify their employer if they are required to self-isolate and confirm to their employer the start and end dates of their self-isolation period.