New Government guidance on living with Covid-19
It’s been a while since we mentioned the dreaded c word, butthe Government has recently announced new guidance for living safely with Covid-19.
The guidance provides information for those with symptoms of respiratoryinfections, such as coronavirus; people with a positive COVID-19 test and theircontacts; and advice on safer behaviours for everyone.
One of the main changes for employersis that the working safety guidelines for the various sectors has been removed,with employers instead needing to consider the needs of those at a higher riskof serious illness.
Employers are encouraged to be aware of Covid symptoms inorder to reduce the risk of transmission between employees. If a member ofstaff has Covid-19 symptoms, then the respiratory infection guidance belowshould be followed.
To limit transmission within a business, employers should ensurethat there is adequate ventilation in the workplace, that hygiene facilitiesare available and that any workspaces are kept clean and sanitised.
The requirement to explicitly consider Covid in a riskassessment has been removed, as has the need to inform public health of anoutbreak, but employers can still consider it in their assessments should theychoose to.
Previously, employers could reclaim SSP paid due to Covidrelated absences, but this is now not the case following the closure of therebate scheme. Employers will need to ensure that they pay employees SSP forCovid absences if they have been absent for at least 4 days in a row (includingnon-working days), in line with regular sickness absences.
Whilst there is no obligation on someone who has symptoms torefrain from coming to the workplace, the guidance suggests that employersshould allow them to work from home where possible, where that isn’t the case,to look at alternative options.
People with respiratory infections
From 1 April 2022, anyone with symptoms of a respiratoryinfection, such as Covid, and who have a high temperature or are not feelingwell should limit contact with others and stay at home where possible. Anyonewho has a positive Covid test result (whether because they chose to carry oneout or were asked to) should again try to limit contact with others and stayhome for 5 days following their positive result.
As has been the case throughout, anyone that tests positiveshould refrain from close contact with those who have a reduced immune systemand are at risk of serious illness. The guidance in this case is that contactshould be avoided with those at a higher risk of serious illness for 10 days.
Employees who are at higher risk of serious illness shouldbe considered. They should be able to wear a face mask where possible and mayneed to work from home to reduce their risk, however the requirement for themto shield has been removed.
Leaving home whilst positive
In a slightly controversial move, those with a positiveresult will not be forced into isolation and instead, will be able to leavetheir homes, and continue to go to work, even whilst they have symptoms.However, there is guidance which should be considered:
- well-fitting face covering or masks should beworn
- exercising should be done away from others
- crowds and enclosed spaces should be avoided
If you would like any further guidance on how Covid-19 mightimpact you, then please get in touch with a member of our employment team bycalling 01752 663295.