The NHS test and trace service is part of the government’s coronavirus recovery plan.
The service provides:
- Testing for those with symptoms;
- The ability to get in touch with anyone who has a positive result to help share information on any close contact they have had with others;
- An alert to contacts and notifies them that they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus.
The role of employers
It is vital employers play their part by:
- Making their workplace as safe as possible;
- Encouraging workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and support them when in isolation.
This may seem disruptive to employers, but it is less disruptive than an outbreak of coronavirus in the workplace and further periods in lockdown.
The test and trace service is designed to support business and economic recovery by:
- Providing testing for those with symptoms and if positive they and others in their household can self-isolate;
- Help to stop the onward spread of the virus in the workplace and in society;
- Enables the government to further lift the lockdown measures as far as safe to do so, to help the nation return to normal as quickly as possible.
Employers should encourage workers to adhere to any notification to self-isolate and provide support to workers who must isolate.
It is vital employers help to protect the health and safety of their workers and other people affected by their business such as agency employees, contractors and customers. For further information on H&S and the Coronavirus you may find our blog of interest https://www.cloverhr.co.uk/action-plan-for-prevention-of-or-managing-an-outbreak-of-coronavirus/
Employers must ensure they:
- Make every reasonable effort to allow home working;
- Identify sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace providing hand sanitiser and adhering to the two metre rule;
- Keep the workplace clean by conducting extra cleaning measures and maintaining work separation.
Outbreaks in the workplace
If there is more than one case of Covid-19 in a workplace the employer must contact their local health protection team to report this.
Supporting self-isolating employees
Employers should support any employee who needs to self-isolate and must not expect or ask them to attend the workplace.
Employees will be told to self-isolate if they:
- Have symptoms;
- Have tested positive for coronavirus;
- A member of their household has tested positive or has symptoms;
- Have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and has been contacted via the test and trace service to self-isolate.
Employees who are unable to work from home during self-isolation are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for everyday in isolation if they meet the conditions. However, they can request to use holiday entitlement for this period which would entitle them to receive full pay. Employees may also be entitled to receive full pay under a company’s enhanced sick pay policy.
The notification from the test and trace service can be used as evidence that someone has been told to self-isolate. In addition to this an isolation note can be obtained through NHS111 service online.
Contact with co-workers
When someone first develops symptoms of coronavirus and orders a testing kit, they will be encouraged to alert the people they have had close contact with in the 48 hours before symptoms. If any close contacts are co-workers, then the person, if they wish, can ask their employer to alert the co-workers. At this stage, those close contacts should not self-isolate but they:
- Must avoid individuals that are at high risk of contracting coronavirus
- Must take extra care in practicing social distancing and good hygiene and watch out for symptoms
- Will be better prepared if the person has a positive test result and subsequently they receive notification from the test and trace service saying they need to self-isolate.
If the person who has tested positive works or has recently visited one of the following places, the contact tracing will be escalated to the local public health experts:
- Hospital or a care home or equivalent
- Prison or another secure establishment
- Schools, especially ones for children with special needs
- Any setting there is a risk of a local outbreak
The self-isolation period is 14 days.
If you would like further guidance or support on this matter please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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