The new self-isolation regulations (in England only) breach of which can lead to criminal sanction, came into force at the beginning of Monday 28 September 2020.
Among other things, these regulations impose specific requirements on employers, workers, agency workers, agents and principals. They are very complex in nature but we summarise the key points below.
The basic requirement on an adult to self-isolate is triggered where that adult is notified by NHS staff, local authority staff or the Secretary of State that they have:
- tested positive for coronavirus at some point after 28th September 2020, or
- had close contact after 28th September 2020 with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
The requirement to self-isolate is not, however, triggered by a notification that comes from the NHS Covid 19 smartphone app.
In all cases, the period of self-isolation begins with the date when notification was received by the adult concerned. Where self-isolation was triggered by the adult being notified that they have tested positive, the period of self-isolation is 10 days.
Where self-isolation was triggered by the adult being notified that they had close contact with someone who has tested positive, the period of self-isolation is 14 days.
Any adult contravening these requirements to self-isolate without reasonable excuse will commit a criminal offence.
A specific additional obligation is placed on employees who are required to self-isolate. Once they become aware of that, the extra obligation is triggered if:
- the relevant worker is due to work or undertake any other activities related to the worker’s employment during the isolation period, and
- that work or those activities is due to take place somewhere other than the place (usually their home) where they are required to self-isolate.
If the extra obligation is triggered, that worker must notify their employer of:
- the requirement on them to self-isolate, and
- the start and end dates of the isolation period
That obligation to notify the employer must be complied with:
- as soon as reasonably practicable, and
- in any event, before the worker is next due to start work within the isolation period
Any worker contravening these extra requirements without reasonable excuse will commit a criminal offence.
There are similar extra requirements placed on agency workers.
As soon as an Employer becomes aware that that an employee or agency worker has been required to self-isolate the employer must not knowingly allow the worker or agency worker to attend any place other than the designated place where the worker or agency worker is self-isolating (usually their home) during the relevant isolation period for any purpose related to the worker’s or agency worker’s employment.
It follows that there will be no breach of this obligation by the employer where the worker or agency worker is required to self-isolate at their home, and the employer requires them to work from home.
An employer contravening these requirements without reasonable excuse will commit a criminal offence.
In addition, an employer is subject to extra obligations where an agency worker it that they are self-isolating to notify the agency and any principals to whom they are supplied of the fact that they are self-isolating and the period.
Where the fixed penalty notice for employers ( and directors) in respect of contravening these obligations, without reasonable excuse start at £1,000 where it is the first offence and go up to £10,000 where it is the fourth or greater fixed penalty notice that the employer or director has received under the regulations.
For further advice or assistance on these issues in the meantime please contact any member of the Employment Team.
This article is accurate as at 05 October 2020, but is not a substitute for legal advice. Please check our website at Ellisons Covid-19 Business Support for up to date developments.