Update 22nd February 2022

The legal requirement for people who test positive for coronavirus to self-isolate will be removed from Thursday (24th February 2022) and free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing will end in England from 1st April 2022, the PM announced last night.

Boris Johnson confirmed the move as he unveiled his government’s plan for “living with COVID.

What do the new rules mean?

From today, Tuesday 22nd February 2022:

  • Guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing will be removed.

From Thursday 24th February 2022:

  • Adults and children who test positive for COVID will still be advised to self-isolate for at least 5 days, but the legal requirement to do so will be removed.
  • Vaccinated contacts of positive cases will no longer be asked to test for seven days.
  • There will no longer be a legal requirement for close contacts who are not vaccinated to self-isolate.
  • Contact tracing will also come to an end.
  • COVID SSP will remain in place for a further month.

From Thursday 24th March 2022:

  • COVID SSP will cease.
  • Wider guidance on workplace safety that changed for COVID will be updated.

From Friday 1st April 2022:

  • Free universal testing will be scrapped and will instead be targeted at the most vulnerable.
  • People with COVID-like symptoms are asked to exercise ‘personal responsibility’ when deciding whether to stay at home or not.
  • Government officials expect the cost of a box of seven lateral flow tests to settle at around £20.
  • The use of the NHS COVID Pass will no longer be a requirement for venues.

Considerations for Employers

Under the new plan, it will be difficult for some employers to manage these new changes. There will be may questions asked:

  • How will you know it’s COVID?
  • How will you prove it? Will you pay for a private lateral flow test?
  • Will you let your team into the workplace if they have COVID-like symptoms?
  • What will you pay someone if they suspect it is COVID and they can’t work from home?

These are all considerations that need to be discussed and agreed going forward.

It might be that you decide that anyone with COVID-like symptoms should not attend work. If you do not already pay company sick pay, or the employee is not entitled to it, you may need to take a stance on what you will pay someone in these circumstances. You could perhaps decide to create a policy whereby you pay the equivalent of SSP from Day 1, before normal SSP kicks in on the 4th day. Or, you may simply decide to treat COVID as a normal period of absence and pay and manage it as such, in line with your current policies.

It is also worth noting, that you may have some vulnerable people within your workforce that are extremely nervous of these changes, and you have a duty of care to protect these people from harm. Perhaps keeping up with regular risk assessments and keeping some small protections in place such as masks/hand sanitiser/desk screens etc may help.

Whatever you decide, on all aspects of this, it is important to build this into a policy and to communicate this to your team. If you have questions, they’ll have questions.

HOW HALLIDAYS HR CAN HELP

If you have any specific queries or concerns that you would like to discuss, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk