On 21st February 2022 there were 38,400 new cases of Coronavirus in the UK, and a total of 309,200 cases over the previous 7 days. On 21st February 2022 there were also 30 deaths and a total of over 1000 deaths in the previous 7 days related to Covid-19. We review the removal of Covid Restrictions and what this means for businesses and their employees.
On 21st February 2022 the Government announced several relaxations to the Covid rules in England. These include;
Removal Of Covid Restrictions | 24th February
- People who test positive for Covid will no longer be legally required to self isolate. Instead, they are advised to stay at home and avoid contact for at least 5 days
- £500 self isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive will no longer be available
- Covid provision for increased SSP will apply for a further month.
Removal of Covid Restrictions | 1st April
- Free mass testing for the public will end, and only the most vulnerable will be able to use testing
- People with Covid symptoms simply asked to remain at home.
- The Covid pass will no longer be recommended for venues / require the NHS Covid pass.
It should be noted that these only impact England at the moment, and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remain unchanged.
What does this mean in reality?
Should someone contract Covid-19 there will no longer be a legal obligation to self isolate, and it is down to the individual. If the Company wants them to remain at home in order to avoid other staff illness / protect others, it would be down to the employer to medically suspend the employee on full pay. Many may be able to work from home, however there are several obvious examples where this would not be possible.
Organisations in the Care Sector would obviously need to consider what action it should take in dealing with an employee with Covid-19 due to the heightened risk to residents or Service Users. It is unclear what financial support there will be for those organisations.
Other employees may have concerns about working alongside someone with Covid, and could refuse to attend work and complain that the employer has failed in its duty to provide a safe working environment. They would likely have protection against receiving a detriment, or being dismissed, due to the protections provided in H&S and protected disclosure legislation.
Advice for Employers
- Companies should be sympathetic to people wanting to stay at home when they have Covid, and also sympathetic towards complaints from employees who do not wish to work alongside someone with Covid.
- Taking a ‘non-nonsense’ or ‘blunt’ approach to employee concerns will likely result in a problem escalating significantly, and likely result in an employment claim should an individual received detrimental treatment towards them for raising worries or concerns.
- We recommend that companies consider carefully how it will respond to employees who get Covid and what support it will provide to employees at that time, as it will be different for each organisation depending on their circumstances.
If you find yourselves in a situation such as this, if you are a Wirehouse Client please contact the HR Advice Line to discuss your Covid Risk Assessments. If you are not a Wirehouse Client, please get in touch with the HR Consultancy team today.