Following the removal of self-isolation requirements in England, it is now a possibility that Covid-positive employees could interact with others in an unrestricted way. As a result, the onus now falls on employers to assess and manage the impact of this upon their workforce.
There are also knock-on effects for company policies, which we will explore further in this article.
Where do employers stand?
Being on top of this change, as well as its impact on employer responsibilities, should be an immediate priority for all organisations.
The removal of self-isolation rules does not impact the employers’ existing duty to protect its staff, under which they must take all reasonably practicable steps to reduce harm.
With this in mind, it’s likely that many employers will continue to consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments.
In addition to the danger of transmission, employers also face HR and employment law risks when managing the virus.
This means employees who raise health and safety concerns should not be subject to any detriment, such as disciplinary proceedings or a dismissal.
If situations like this are handled incorrectly, the consequences can be extremely costly, with potential for employment tribunal claims against the organisation.
Key policy considerations
Employers must consider several factors to ensure that their policies continue to promote safety.
These considerations include:
- Should employers who have been asking staff to test before coming into work continue to do so? If they do, for how long?
- When tests are no longer free of charge, are employers obliged to pay for their staff to have access to tests privately?
- How are staff expected to know the difference between ordinary cold and Covid symptoms without access to a Covid test? What if groups of infections begin to emerge and lead to absences?
- Employers could ask staff to stay away from the office or site with any cold symptoms. Where staff are required by employers, rather than by law, to stay away from the workplace, what should they be paid during absence?
- How should employers manage people who have been previously categorised as clinically vulnerable?
- What other Covid prevention measures should employers continue, or start to impose – such as mask mandates and workplace social distancing?
How should your organisation react?
When deciding how to react to this change and the considerations above, employers should factor in their current approach to risk, as well as their desired outcomes for protecting staff.
This can be a daunting and time-consuming process, which is why it’s advisable to discuss any concerns with our team before proceeding.
With our support, you can continue to protect your employees with confidence, while minimising the risk of absences and potential employment tribunal claims.
To receive tailored advice, call us today on 0345 076 2288 or complete the form below.