Sentient Group Ltd
 
Info Update 2020/33                                                        Issue Date: 12/06/2020
 
Test & Trace - What it Means for the Employer 
 
A number of questions have been posed to us regarding the NHS Test and Trace service which forms a central part of the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery strategy. This will play a vital role by providing an early warning if COVID-19 activity is increasing locally, regionally or nationally. This information will then be used to inform the government’s approach to stop the spread of the virus. The first figures from the new NHS Test and Trace programme in England show two-thirds of the 8,000 people who've tested positive for Covid-19 have provided details of who they had been close to. As a result, nearly 27,000 people have been told to self-isolate. The programme has traced 31,000 contacts so far.

Put simply, anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms should immediately get a test and self-isolate. If the test is positive, they are to continue to self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days from when their ‘housemate’ started having symptoms. If the test is negative, the individual and other household members no longer need to self-isolate

During this time, they are to log on to the latest Test and Trace website and provide details of people they have recently been in contact with. Contact tracers will then contact these people and ask them to self-isolate for the next 14 days, even if they do not have any symptoms. Note, we have seen in some media the Test and Trace scheme is incorrectly referred to as Track and Trace. No guesses for what it will become known as.

Guidance on the role employers can play in ensuring the success of this service has been provided at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-workplace-guidance

One of the key issues is that employers make their workplaces as safe as possible and encourage workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate. Employers are encouraged to support them when in isolation. Although this may seem disruptive for businesses, it is likely to be less disruptive to the workplace than a second outbreak of COVID-19 would be, and far less disruptive than more periods in lockdown.

We have provided information previously regarding improving health and Safety in the workplace during the Covid-19 outbreak and will continue to so in the coming months. This includes our template Risk Assessment documentation we brought to your attention in our last e-mail update. Further information is available on the Gov.UK and HSE web sites.

What if your employees are told to isolate due to Test and Trace?
First point to make is that if an employee shows symptoms, they should be told to follow the guidance, get tested and report on the Test and Trace website.

Another area of concern for employer is what to do if an employee has been told to isolate. The guidance suggests that employers should:
  • support workers who need to self-isolate
  • not ask them to attend the workplace
  • continue to communicate with workers in self-isolation
  • provide support
  • provide sick pay – including SSP.

If they remain well and if it is practicable to do so such support may include allowing people to work from home (including finding alternative work that can be done from home).

If people can’t work from home, employers must ensure any self-isolating employee receives sick pay as determined by their contract of employment. Employees in self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for every day they are in isolation, as long as they meet the eligibility conditions. The employer will be able to reclaim SSP for the first two weeks of self isolation and from the first day of absence provided they have less than 250 employees on the payroll as at 28th Feb 2020.

An employee can request they be allowed to take their paid holiday for the time they’re off work. Thus, entitling them to full pay for the duration of their leave, as opposed to Statutory Sick Pay, if they choose.

If you have any concerns about the validity of an employee’s notification that they have been told to self-isolate ask for a copy of the notification the employee has received. The NHS test and trace service will provide a notification that can be used as evidence that someone has been told to self-isolate.

That’s all for now….till the next time….which will probably be soon….more news is expected between now and Monday. 
 
 
The advice and comment in this update is not meant to be an authoritative statement of the law. The articles and summaries should not be applied to any specific set of facts and circumstances without seeking further advice. Whilst every care is taken to ensure that the content is correct Sentient cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of statements made nor the result of any actions taken by individuals after reading such.
 
 
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