Living with Covid: what does this mean for employers?
The recent ‘Living with Covid Plan’ set out by the prime minister means big changes to how Covid is managed in the workplace. But how will this impact your business?
In general, the new guidance puts emphasis on the employers to manage the health and safety of their employees, rather than the rules being set by law. Here’s a breakdown of the changes.
Covid policy changes at a glance
From 24 February:
- People who test positive for Covid-19 will no longer have to self-isolate.
- Those who’ve been in close contact with someone with Covid will no longer have to take tests for seven days, nor self-isolate if unvaccinated.
- Self-isolation support payments, national funding for practical support, and medicine delivery service will no longer be available.
- Tracing those who’ve been in contact with someone with Covid will end. Therefore contacts will not have to self-isolate or take daily tests.
- Individuals are not obliged to tell their employers when they have Covid.
- The government are revoking The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations.
From 24 March:
- There will be no Covid-19 provisions within the Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance regulations. This means employees won’t get SSP on the first day they are off ill with Covid.
From 1 April:
- The COVID-status certification will no longer be needed in domestic settings and it’s no longer recommended that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass.
- Testing – including lateral flow tests and PCR tests – will no longer be free.
- Covid-19 considerations will no longer be required in risk assessments.
- ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be replaced with new public health guidance.
What employers will need to consider
Employers might want to consider their approach on these areas and set up a Covid plan of their own:
- Without the legal requirement for Covid sufferers to self isolate, what message do employers want to send their employees about staying off?
- Now that tests won’t be free, will they want to supply testing kits to employees to help manage the spread?
- With removal of SSP payments from day 1 of being ill with Covid, workers who are ill might come to work and potentially spread Covid to their colleagues. How do employers manage this?
- Should employers still encourage employees to self-isolate, and how can they communicate this if it’s not a legal requirement?
- Should employers track which employees have Covid (now that contact trace is ending) – and how can they do this?
- Should employers take Covid off their risk assessments?
- How do managers encourage employees to tell you they have Covid – and should they?
- The likely repeal of rules requiring those performing work in care settings to be vaccinated against Covid may have consequences for some employers and former employees. What can those affected do?
- The change in rules, including a reduction in the funding and support available may put a strain on employees’ mental health. How will companies support their employees during this time?
The new rules put employers in a difficult position of having to manage their employees in the safest way possible, whilst having no laws to back up their decisions or guide their HR policies. If you’re not sure what to do, we’ll be hosting a webinar to answer the questions above. Sign up to our newsletter below so you don’t miss the invite.