Covid-19 round up – what you need to know in the workplace…
GUEST ARTICLE BY HELEN STRAW from The Personnel Partnership
As Covid-19 will be with us for some time to come, it’s important that we know the latest to ensure that we are complying with the law, that our workplaces are safe, and all employees know what’s what.
First things first – let’s talk about self-isolation. You may know that the rules have recently changed:
You must self-isolate if:
- You have symptoms of Covid-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – if this is the case, arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible)
- You’ve tested positive for Covid-19
- You’ve been told to, following contact with someone who has tested positive
You may need to quarantine when arriving in England from abroad – you must check the latest quarantine rules to ensure you have the most up to date advice on this.
From 16 August 2021, if someone you live with has symptoms of Covid-19 or has tested positive for Covid-19, you are not required to self-isolate if any of the following apply:
- You are fully vaccinated*
- You are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
- You have taken part in or are currently part of an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial
- You are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
* Fully vaccinated means you have been vaccinated with an MHRA approved Covid-19 vaccine in the UK and at least 14 days have passed since you received the recommended doses of that vaccine.
Instead of self isolating, you are advised to get a PCR test as soon as possible. PCR tests are available by going to a walk-in or drive through test site, calling 119 or ordering one on-line to be sent to your home.
You are now able to have a PCR test even if you don’t have symptoms. Even though it is only advisory (and not legally required), that an individual has a PCR test if they are a contact of someone who has Covid-19, you may want to encourage your employees to get a test. Employees don’t need to isolate until they have the results of the PCR test.
Also known as Lateral Flow Tests, these can easily be picked up from your local pharmacy, a local test site or you can have them delivered to your home. You may wish to encourage your employees to test themselves on a regular basis, to help keep your workplace as safe as possible for everyone.
Guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of Covid-19
The Government is advising that even if you aren’t required to self-isolate, but are identified as a contact of someone with Covid-19 that you may want to take extra precautions by:
- Limiting close contact with people outside your household, especially in enclosed spaces
- Wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and where you are unable to maintain social distancing
- Limiting contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable
- Take part in regular rapid (lateral flow) testing
You can encourage your employees to keep you informed of any contact they have with individuals who may have symptoms or who have tested positive for Covid-19.
In light of the above changes, you might want to revisit your risk assessments and consider social distancing measures, cleaning, sanitising etc.
Shielding for the ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’ (CEV) has been paused, therefore all employees, even those classed as CEV, should have been able to return to work. If any of your employees have specific concerns, about their health and the changes to self-isolation etc, do encourage them to speak to you about it.
As ever, this is a changing situation, so keep an eye out for updated Government guidance and take action to ensure you are compliant and that your employees are clear of their responsibilities too.
By Helen Straw, Managing Director, The Personnel Partnership