As we enter STEP 4 of the Government’s plan to ease lockdown, Social distancing guidance will no longer apply. This means that you do not need to implement social distancing in your business, workplace or venue, and customers and workers do not need to keep apart from people they don’t live with.
The government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, so employers can start to plan a return to workplaces. During this period of high prevalence, the government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer. You should discuss the timing and phasing of a return with your workers.
Employers and others must continue to follow statutory health and safety requirements, conduct a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to manage risks in their workplace or setting, as set out in this guidance.
Here is the link to the sector-specific guidance
Note: Follow this link for the different guidance for these sectors. There is different guidance for:
- grassroots sport participants, providers and facility operators
- schools, further education and childcare providers
- wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations
Covid is still a foreseeable risk to your employees, and as such you will still need to risk assess your workplace and work activities under normal health and safety legislation and your duty of care to your staff and visitors. As such your risk assessment needs to include proportional risk control actions. Please contact your lead H&S consultant for advice and support if you are unsure.
Self-isolation Changes Effective 16 August 2021
We are all aware of the potential, and in some cases, the recent reality of the loss of staff due to self-isolation requests. If you are contacted by test and trace and not fully vaccinated, you must legally self-isolate. Effective August 16th, the rules surrounding self-isolation have changed.
To most businesses, this should be a benefit, with the reduced risk of losing staff as a result of self-isolation requirements.
Please read the following summary and follow the link for the detailed changes made to all the guidance effective August 16th.
We would encourage you to share this with your management team in order that they can communicate this to staff and importantly be able to advise staff what action to take should they be contacted by test and trace.
You’re not required to self-isolate if you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact with someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:
- you’re fully vaccinated. This means, you received the two jabs and two weeks have elapsed since the second jab.
- you’re below the age of 18 years 6 months
- you’ve taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
NHS Test and Trace will contact you to let you know that you have been identified as a contact and check whether you are legally required to self-isolate. If you’re not legally required to self-isolate, you will be provided with advice on testing and given guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19. Even if you do not have symptoms, you will be advised to have a PCR test as soon as possible.
NOTE: The advice is to STILL get a PCR test even if you are not required to self-isolate.
You should not arrange to have a PCR test if you have previously received a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days, unless you develop any new symptoms of COVID-19, as it is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for some time after COVID-19 infection.
As most restrictions have been lifted, it’s predictable that our behaviour towards Covid and the associated risks will also change, in some cases taking a less responsible view. However, Government advice is still clear, staying at home if you have symptoms and getting a test is still a requirement.
Staying home when unwell:
- If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test, even if your symptoms are mild. You should self-isolate at home while you book the test and wait for the results. You must self-isolate if you test positive.
- Staying at home until you feel better reduces the risk that you will pass on an illness to your friends, colleagues, and others in your community. This will help reduce the burden on our health services.
Latest Government update in full:
The general guidance for all the changes and updates effective August 16th are here
Staff who are unvaccinated, had one dose, or a second dose but still within two weeks:
- If contacted by test and trace, or are in close contact with a person with a confirmed positive test will still have to self isolate for the required time
- This is still a legal duty and the same as currently stands before August 16th
Fully vaccinated staff:
- What is fully vaccinated? You have received both doses plus 2 weeks have elapsed.
- Staff who are under 18 or fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate. See exemptions above.
- A staff member no longer has a legal duty to self-isolate, unless they have received a positive test result, and therefore will not have to inform their employer
- The employer does not need to verify vaccine status of staff or store this data. Unless you have a valid reason ( managing the risks of a staff member who is clinically vulnerable, are a care home which legal requirements to ensure those who can have two vaccinations do so)
- NHS Test & Trace will still contact staff to make them aware of close contact and will verify their vaccine status.
- If contacted by test and trace, staff will be strongly advised to take a PCR test, but are not legally obliged to do so if fully vaccinated.
Best Practice for all staff to follow:
- If you develop symptoms, you must self-isolate and take a PCR test.
- If you are contacted by test and trace “pinged” and not fully vaccinated, you must legally self-isolate.
- As an employer, you must not allow a staff member to work if you are aware they have been instructed to self-isolate.
- If a staff member is instructed to self-isolate, they must inform you as their employer.
- Any staff members who are double vaccinated, the best practice above would not apply, but you as an employer should continue to take caution and manage social distancing, the use of facemasks and follow government guidelines in addition to continuing to support staff to test PCR twice a week.
Please contact your lead consultant for additional support and advice, the latest advice should reduce the risk of losing staff unnecessarily to test and trace and self-isolation.
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