Yesterday the Government published its overview of the Test & Trace service including what happens if employees test positive for COVID-19. This note considers some of the key implications for employers.

What is test and trace?

The NHS Test & Trace Service is intended to help control the rate of reproduction of COVID19 called the “R” rate.  It is a way for those who test positive for the virus sharing with the NHS who they have recently had contact with so that those people can be alerted and self-isolate. There is an obligation to self-isolate if informed by the NHS test and trace service that you have been in close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus. The self-isolation is under strict lockdown rules. Test and trace will therefore have implications for employers and staff if employees are told by NHS test & trace to self-isolate.

Who has to self-isolate?

According to the guidance, the person who tested positive, their household and the person notified by test and trace although this could have implications for the families of those who receive the instruction to self-isolate.

What should I pay an employee who has been told to self-isolate?

Much will depend on the wording of your contractual sick pay policies and whether the self-isolator would be regarded by the employer as sick.

The Government has, from today, extended statutory sick pay (SSP) to allow those who are self-isolating as a result of test and trace to claim SSP if they have been notified that they must do so.

Can the person self-isolating due to a test and trace work from home?

Yes, if they can work from home then they would not necessarily need to be absent due to ill health and may be able to continue working depending on their symptoms, unless they become unwell and unable to work.

What about furlough ?

Whether furlough pay is applicable may need to be carefully considered depending how the employee’s work is affected at the time as well as a number of other factors such as ongoing vulnerability, age and caring responsibilities.

Next steps

Employers should review absence policies and consider how they are going to apply policies when it comes to employees who receive a test and test notification to self-isolate.

A link to the test and trace is here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works.

Additionally, if you haven’t done so already, review how personal data relating to ill health and test and trace is handled to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations.

For more information about any of the issues in this Employment Express please don’t hesitate to get in touch with joan.pettingill@luptonfawcett.law or telephone 0114 228 3252 or any member of our multi award winning team.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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