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What employers should know about the 'ping'demic

View profile for Julie Temple
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What employers should know about the pingdemic

Employees contacted by Test and Trace (other than via the NHS App) must self-isolate and they will commit an offence and risk a fine if they do not. The fine can be £1,000 and, for repeat offenders, £10,000. 

Employers will also commit an offence and be liable for a fine if they knowingly allow an employee to attend at work who has been contacted and is required to self-isolate. The fine to the employer could be £10,000.

Being contacted by Test and Trace is not the same as being pinged by the NHS Covid App. A ‘ping’ via the App and only via the App is advisory and not obligatory; neither the individual or the employer will be committing an offence under the relevant Covid regulations or risk a fine. 

However, both the individual and employer have obligations of health and safety. Employers should assess the risk of an individual who has been pinged attending the workplace and, potentially, spreading the virus amongst the workforce and causing wider spread issues. 

We recommend that you carry out a risk assessment on the individual and what they know about their potential exposure contact and this is documented. The individual should, in any event, carry out daily testing and not attend if they test positive.

On 19 July 2021 the government announced certain key workers or critical services would be exempt and individuals could attend work if they have had the double vaccine but otherwise need to self-isolate. Despite confusion around whether an application would need to be made, a list of sectors was published on 22 July 2021 and the Test and Trace guidance updated accordingly:

NHS Test and Trace in the workplace - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Fully vaccinated critical workers to be able to leave self-isolation in exceptional circumstances - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Checking whether an individual is double vaccinated must be carried out in accordance with the GDPR.

The situation changes again from 16 August 2021 when individuals who have been double vaccinated will not be required to self-isolate.

Self-isolation to be eased for fully vaccinated adults in step 4 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

We sympathise greatly with employers grappling with a once again ever changing system of rules and guidance. If you are unsure how to deal with a particular problem please get in touch with any member of our team who is helping support business on a daily basis. You might also find the general guidance on covid secure workplaces, specific to your workplace, of assistance.

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If you have contacted about an alleged breach of self-isolation rules our Head of Regulatory Law, Tej Thakkar, might be able to assist. You can contact Tej via tej.thakkar@birkettlong.co.uk or 01206 217312

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