The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force today (28 September 2020) in England.
These new regulations deal with self-isolation and duties to notify the Secretary of State of the names of those within a household where someone has tested positive for Covid-19. They also specifically deal with the impact on employment of self-isolation.
The new Regulations state that someone must self-isolate where they have tested positive for Covid-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. A person who has tested positive must also notify the Secretary of State, if required to do so, of the address at which they will self-isolate, and the names of each person in their household.
Notably, for employers, the regulations prohibit an employer from allowing a self-isolating worker to attend any other place for any purpose connected to their employment. This includes people who are self-isolating due to living with someone who has tested positive.
In practical terms, the new regulations mean that anyone who is self-isolating must not attend work premises for any reason and, unless they are able to work from home or the place they are self-isolating, they will be unable to work during the period of self-isolation.
A self-isolating worker is also required to inform either their employer, agency or principal that they are self-isolating.
Any employer who fails to follow these new regulations will be committing an offence and may face a fixed penalty notice of between £1,000 and £10,000 (the fine increasing each time an offence is committed) or formal court proceedings. In addition, any individual who breaches self-isolation rules (including the requirement to inform their employer) may commit a separate offence and also face a fixed penalty or court proceedings.
The regulations also deal with enforcement and the disclosure of information.
What do employers need to do?
You must continue to ensure your workers inform you if they test positive for Covid-19 or are required to self-isolate due to being in close contact with someone who has. You should make everyone aware of this requirement.
The regulations state that your workers have a duty to inform you and to confirm the start and end dates of their isolation period as soon as possible, and certainly before they are next due to start work for you.
It is now an offence for you to knowingly permit a worker (including an agency worker) to attend their place of work when they are self-isolating. This includes workers who are required to self-isolate because they live with someone who has tested positive.
If you know a worker has tested positive (or lives with someone who has tested positive), it is your responsibility to prevent them from working other than from home (or the place they are self-isolating which may be the home of a friend or relative or accommodation provided to them). During self-isolation there are limited reasons where someone may be able to leave their premises, and work is not included in those exceptions.
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