Latest News

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NHS announce stay at home measures on the back of new test and trace service

Friday 29 May 2020

With effect from 28 May 2020, individuals who have been notified that they have had contact with an infected person and instructed to stay at home for 14 days under the new NHS test and trace system will also be deemed incapable of work and eligible for SSP (statutory sick pay).

The new service is said to play a vital role in providing an early warning if COVID-19 activity is increasing locally, regionally, or nationally and the NHS asks employers in England to do their part to help.

Employees, if contacted on the back of the test and trace service, may qualify for contractual sick pay depending on the contractual terms especially where they are unwell and will be eligible for SSP.  Employers may choose to augment pay in any event, to support their staff and discourage attendance at work against government guidance.  

Guidance for employers on the new system suggests that employers should also allow self-isolating staff to take paid holiday instead of sick leave if they prefer, in order to receive full pay.

The guidance also states that if someone first develops symptoms and orders a test, they will be encouraged to alert the people that they have had close contact with in the 48 hours before symptom onset. If any of those close contacts are co-workers, the person who has developed symptoms may wish to (but is not obliged to) ask their employer to alert those co-workers.

Employers should be prepared that employees may be subject to ‘stay at home’ requirements repeatedly.

Test and trace will be used to inform the UK Government’s approach to stop the spread of the virus but in conjunction with the service, employers are being asked to follow latest guidance that includes heeding any notifications to self-isolate and encouraging their staff members to do so.

About the NHS test and trace service

By following instructions to self-isolate, people who have had close recent contact with someone with Coronavirus will be protecting their family, friends, colleagues, and other people around them, and will play a direct role in stopping the spread of the virus.

The service provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of Coronavirus to find out if they have the virus. It gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had; and alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus

Guidance for employers

The service aims to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging as restrictions on everyday life are eased, as far as it is deemed safe to do so.

The NHS says it is vital that employers play their part by:

  • making their workplaces as safe as possible
  • encouraging workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and supporting them when in isolation

To support businesses and economic recovery, the service:

  • provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of Coronavirus, and if positive they and their household members know to continue to self-isolate
  • helps stop the onward spread of the virus in the workplace and wider society
  • will enable the Government to go further in safely easing or lifting lockdown measures

The new guidance explains how employers and businesses can play their part in the NHS test and trace programme in five steps and also has sector specific advice. The service aims to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health and care system and save lives.

The guidance 

As well as the guidance, employers must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector such as:

  • making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option
  • where working from home isn’t possible, identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace
  • keeping the workplace clean, maintaining safe working separation, and preventing transmission through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces

The measures employers put in place to maintain social distancing will depend on their individual business circumstances, including their working environment, the size of the site, and the number of workers. The guidance will support employers to make an informed decision.

Find out more about test and trace below.

Test and trace