Covid19 – 2022 Updates

Following the most recent changes regarding the Covid19 Pandemic (1st April 2022), we are receiving many enquiries from businesses who are still unsure where they stand in terms of managing the workplace and their employees safely. We hope this blog gives some clarity and guidance as we continue into the phase of “living with Covid”.

As of 1st April 2022, in England all legal requirements to isolate were revoked, as were the legal requirements to test. In light of these changes, businesses with existing Covid19 policies and procedures in place will need to review these documents to ensure they are up to date and relevant to current legislations. If no new or altered policies and procedures were implemented during the pandemic, clear communication to the entire workforce, detailing the changes and expectations of employees would be highly advisable.

Staying Home

Under the new guidance, employers can advise staff to stay home for 5 days if they test positive. Those who feel unwell but haven’t tested, can also be advised to stay home until they feel better. However, businesses will need to be mindful that if the company are asking staff to isolate or prolonging their time off work (and they can’t WFH), it would be highly advisable to offer some form of enhanced company sick pay. An exception to this would be if they are not well enough to come in to work – in which case they would be paid SSP.

The legal requirement to isolate has been revoked and replaced with “advice to isolate”. However, there may still be serious implications for businesses which need to be carefully considered. Employees will not be breaking the law if they come to work with Covid19. However, Employers have a legal duty to take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to and the spread of Covid19. If an employee fails to isolate when required to do so as a result of their ‘employers’ action’, the employer could be found guilty of an offence and face a fine of up to £10,000.

Working from home in response to Covid19

Statutory Sick Pay

As of 25th March 2022, Statutory Sick Pay rules for Covid19 reverted back to starting from day 4. This means that the first three days of sickness are unpaid. Therefore, there will be financial implications for employees should the business require them to isolate. Tests are no longer free. Therefore, if businesses are requiring staff to test it would be advisable to offer to pay for them.

Working with Covid19

Respecting Vulnerable Employees

It is a great idea to keep up the cleanliness and ventilation practices in order to prevent infections. Considering other illnesses such as flu and sickness bugs, it’s always good to ward off any nasties. There is still an option for people to wear masks if they chose to.

Covid is now under the umbrella of Respiratory Infections. There will be employees who are more vulnerable to catching and becoming seriously ill with respiratory infections, particularly if their immune system is suppressed. Therefore, they may wish to continue to work from home if it’s possible. These employees can also request reasonable adjustments required under the Equality Act. These will need to be reviewed carefully to avoid risk of disability discrimination.

Protecting vulnerable employees from Covid19

It is important to make sure individuals and businesses are following the most up to date guidance. The guidance above represents the changes to legal requirements made by the government on 1st April 2022. Please check a reliable and suitable source for updates, should this guidance have changed.

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Author: Hannah Savill, Senior HR Consultant