What Does The Lifting Of Coronavirus Restrictions Mean For Employers?

What are the rules in place?

Covid restrictions are lifting but what does this mean for employers? Let’s start by looking at the law around Covid restrictions across the UK.

In England all restrictions will be lifted from Thursday 24th February 2022, this includes the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid19.

From 21st March 2022, the rules in Scotland will also end, including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you have had a positive test.

Self-isolation rules were never a legal requirement in Northern Ireland but there was strong guidance to do so, the guidance remains in place but all other restrictions have been eased.

Wales still has a self-isolation mandate in place, we are expecting an update from the Welsh Assembly on 4th March.

What about Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Employees in England have been entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from day 1 of sickness if the sickness is related to Covid. Employers were able to claim the Statutory Sick Payback from the Government from day 1 to day 3 through the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate scheme. 

This scheme will end on 17th March 2022 which means that employees will be unable to claim SSP for the first 3 days of sickness.

What about Company Sick Pay (CSP)?

Some businesses have a Company Sick Pay scheme, this varies between organisations and may even be different for employees depending on their role and duration of employment. Employers and employees should check and follow the employment contract and any sick pay policies.

If there is no legal requirement to self-isolate, should staff attend work?

Although there may be no legal requirement to self isolate a business can still have its own set of rules. Generally speaking, if employees are unwell it is better for them to stay away from the workplace.

Working whilst unwell can result in: 

  • Staff taking longer to recover
  • Staff feeling undervalued
  • Other staff members and service users becoming unwell
  • Other staff members feeling uncomfortable 
  • Reduced productivity

What do I do if testing is no longer free?

There will still be the option to purchase tests. If this is the case you cannot insist that employees pay for tests but you may be able to purchase tests as an employer and ask employees to take the test.

There is no legal requirement for employees to test or to let their employer know the outcome.

What should I be doing right now?

Now is a great time to think about how your business will operate in this new era of managing Covid. Set out some clear guidelines on what staff can expect and what you expect of staff.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Employers still have a duty to protect staff. We have all learned some great things about hand washing, PPE, ventilation, and respecting one another’s personal space. We would encourage you to keep these going to protect all staff from bugs and viruses in general.

I have more questions who can I turn to?

The information in this blog is not intended to be advice as each situation can vary. If you do need additional support with Covid related illness of employees, absence management or any other HR or Employment Law issue get in touch with us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk