At the end of September 2020, we saw two key developments in the UK’s response to fighting Covid-19. Firstly, the introduction of the NHS Test and Trace app, and secondly, the introduction of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020.
NHS Test and Trace App
With the NHS Test and Trace app, there is no legal requirement to download and participate in the tracking of positive cases, but it is strongly encouraged that we do, so that we can all take responsibility in eradicating the virus. Of course, there are some challenges, in that not everybody is able to access the app for technical reasons.
With the introduction of the new self-isolation regulations, it now makes it an offence for an Employer to knowingly permit a worker to attend any place other than where that individual is self-isolating. A breach of these regulations will lead to a fine which start at £1,000.
The regulations also make it an offence when an employee fails to notify their employer that they are required to self-isolate and so any employee who breaches self-isolation will normally be committing a separate criminal offence.
The regulations will apply when the employee has tested positive for Covid-19, where an employee lives with somebody who has tested positive or has displayed symptoms, or where an employee has been told to self-isolate through the NHS test and trace system.
These steps are a more forceful approach, and as we see infection levels increase and enter the winter months, it is no longer about relying on the goodwill and personal choice of individuals. Consequently, the impact of these key developments on business could be significant.
Maintaining Written Records
Previously, there has been scope for individuals to remain at work despite living in a household where a member displays symptoms, most likely due to not being able to afford to not be in work, or there hasn’t been the technology to alert people when they have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive for the virus. We are therefore likely to see more absences from work on the back of these mandatory self-isolation measures, as well as a greater importance on the maintaining of written records evidencing an Employers steps in complying with the regulations.