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Are we now living with COVID in the workplace?

By Victoria Brown

By Victoria Brown

As the government has removed remaining domestic restrictions in England, Victoria looks at how businesses still need to comply with legal obligations relating to health and safety.

When the government removed remaining domestic restrictions in England, on the one hand many of my clients rejoiced that they could attempt to get back to some level of normality, but on the other, there were lots of questions.  As expected, we are getting a lot of calls from clients with the same issue of how to handle employees that test positive for covid.

As an employer, there is no longer a requirement to explicitly consider COVID-19 as a statutory health and safety risk assessment, however it is important that we continue to comply with our legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment and equality duties.

Here is some guidance on what to do if an employee tests positive for covid;

Are they well enough to work?

The first important question here is to establish if they are well enough to work.  Covid symptoms seem to vary in severity, with some not even realising they have it and others being very unwell.  If your employee is unwell and cannot work, then please treat this as you would any other absence and follow your normal procedure.  Please note that you are now unable to claim this back through the SSP rebate scheme.

Are they well enough to work?

If your employee has tested positive, but feels ok and fit for work, then you need to consider if it is possible for them to work from home?  If this is not possible, then are there any measures you can put in place within the workplace to keep your other team members and clients safe from infection?  Are they able to work from a social distance to other people?  If you do want to send the employee home, then you need to consider that this would have to be paid, as there is no legal reason why they need to stay at home anymore if they are well.

We have produced some guidance that we recommend Employers send out to employees when they test positive for covid, reminding them of their responsibilities under the Company’s Health and Safety policy.

If you would like a complimentary copy of this, please email and quote DIB10.

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