Self-isolation laws due to end in England
- AuthorRianna Billington
In my blog on 20 January 2022, I wrote that: “it is still a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID but this restriction is due to end on 24 March 2022, and perhaps even earlier, said the Prime Minister.”
It appears this plan has come to fruition as on Monday (21 February 2022), Boris Johnson announced that from Thursday 24 February 2022, it will no longer be a legal requirement to self-isolate upon notification of a positive COVID test and contract tracing will come to an end.
Individuals who have tested positive
Although it will no longer be a legal requirement, the guidance still advises individuals who have tested positive to self-isolate for at least five full days.
The £500 self-isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive for COVID will also stop from Thursday, but the increased statutory sick pay will apply for a further month.
Furthermore, from 1 April 2022, free universal testing will end and will instead target the most vulnerable.
Although it has not been confirmed who this group will include, it has been suggested that tests will be available for the over-80’s and clinically vulnerable. In an attempt to prevent panic ordering of tests before the April deadline, the Government has said they will only allow tests to be ordered every three days, instead of once every 24 hours as has previously been the case.
Understandably, the ending of the legal requirement to self-isolate may be a concerning prospect for both employers and employees alike.
Our advice to employers
We would advise to brief staff about what is expected of them regarding workplace attendance to minimise any confusion, should they test positive for COVID. If staff can work from home, it may be prudent to allow them to do so whilst they are infected to control the spread of the virus.
Similarly, if employees come into contact with members of the public who are potentially vulnerable, then it may be appropriate to limit their access to these individuals whilst infected. Clear communication and listening to employee concerns from the outset will be crucial to continuing to keep individuals safe and in navigating this next stage of the pandemic.