New regulations make self-isolation a legal requirement and introduce penalties for individuals and employers. These regulations (the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations):
- require people who have been notified that they have tested positive for COVID-19 (and their close contacts) to self-isolate for designated periods and to provide information to contact tracers about where they will be staying for their period of self-isolation;
- prohibit employers or agencies from allowing workers who are required to self-isolate to work in any place except the place where they are self-isolating.
- require workers and agency workers to notify their employers of their requirement to self-isolate;
- create criminal offences and the penalties that apply for breaches of the provisions. In the case of an offence by an employer, fines begin at £1,000, rising up to £10,000 in relation to subsequent offences;
Employers and staff need to understand their legal obligations under the new regulations or risk significant financial penalty. Employers should refresh messaging and policies.
It should be made clear to workers that they are required to notify their employer or agency if they are required to self-isolate as soon as reasonably practicable and not later than when they are next due to start work and that failure to do so may be a disciplinary matter.
Employers should ensure that all line managers, as the people most likely to receive the notification calls, are fully briefed. If a worker who is required to self-isolate is unable to work from “the designated place of isolation” (in most cases their home), the employer must not allow them to attend their usual workplace or work from anywhere else.