What to do about employees who test positive…
Individuals are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they test positive for Covid-19 – can you require them to stay away from work?
It’s undoubtedly a tricky decision. On the one hand, you have an obligation to provide a safe working environment for all employees (particularly those who are clinically vulnerable). On the other there’s no legal requirement for those testing positive to remain at home – and if they’re feeling well enough to work should you even encourage that? How are you dealing with it – take our quick survey!
Usual precautions – obviously, your usual health and safety obligations apply, especially considering those in your business who may be more vulnerable if they catch Covid-19. If someone is asymptomatic they may not know they’re positive, so having continued communication, support and safety measures in place should reassure everyone that you’re managing risks.
Update risks assessments – don’t forget to update your health and safety risk assessment as the Covid-19 risks change. An up to date assessment with well-communicated actions should reassure employees that you’re taking continued wellbeing seriously.
Enforcing isolation – if you’re going to insist that those testing positive remain at home, be sure to check their employment contracts to identify whether the leave should be paid. Continuing to provide full pay during any enforced leave will minimise potential claims for unlawful deduction from wages. There’s also a chance, with or without paid leave, they could claim you’re in breach of contract if they’re ready, willing and able to work but you’re not allowing them to do so.
Evidently, managing Covid-19 risks continues to be a challenge for employers – get in touch if you need our advice. How are you dealing with employees testing positive? Take our quick survey!
This update is accurate on the date it was published (23 March 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.
SSP Rebate Scheme now open
The SSP Rebate Scheme has now reopened meaning you’re once again able to claim back up to two weeks SSP for employees who have taken time off because of COVID-19.
To be eligible to use the Scheme you must:
- Have already paid your employee’s COVID-related SSP;
- Have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created or started on or before 30 November 2021; and
- Have had fewer than 250 employees on 30 November 2021 across all your PAYE payroll schemes.
You can claim for:
- Employees who were off work on or after 21 December 2021 due to COVID-19. If the absence started before 21 December 2021, you’ll need to use 21 December 2021 as the start date.
- The maximum number of employees you can claim for is the number of employees across all your PAYE schemes on 30 November 2021.
You don’t need a doctor’s fit note from any employees in order to make a claim and the Scheme covers all types of employment contract from full-time to fixed term. You can find everything you’ll need in order to make your claim here on the government website.
Get in touch if you need support in managing COVID-related absences.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (21 January 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.
Fear of Covid-19 is not a protected belief
The Employment Tribunal has held that a fear of catching Covid-19 is not a protected belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
An employee refused to return to work due to a fear of catching Covid-19 and passing it onto her partner. The employer refused to pay the employee if they did not return to work. The employee argued they’d been discriminated against on the grounds of their fear being a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 (EQA). The tribunal disagreed – the employee’s view didn’t amount to a genuine philosophical belief under the EQA because it was an opinion and reaction to potential physical harm at that very specific period of time.
Whilst a useful decision for employers in managing any reluctance to return due to Covid-concerns, your health and safety obligations still remain a priority:
Communicate – ensure employees have access to your policies and procedures (including where to raise concerns), and communicate the steps you’re taking with regular reminders. Where employees do have concerns, listen proactively, keep a record, make adjustments where necessary, and reassure them that you’re taking all necessary steps.
Risk assessments – make sure yours is up to date to demonstrate you’re continually thinking about the risks employees face. There’s no expectation for you to eliminate risk entirely, but you do need to do everything reasonably practicable to minimise risks.
Get in touch if you need any advice or support managing potential Covid-concerns.
This update is accurate on the date it was sent (13 January 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.
SSP Rebate Scheme to reopen
The SSP Rebate Scheme is to reopen this month with a specific date and further guidance still to be announced. Below is what we know so far:
You will be eligible to utilise the Scheme if you:
- Employed fewer than 250 employees as of 30 November 2021;
- Had a PAYE payroll scheme as of 30 November 2021;
- Have already paid employees’ COVID-related SSP; and
- Are UK-based.
What you can claim for
You will be able to claim the costs for up to two weeks’ SSP per employee, provided the employee has taken time off because of COVID-19. Claims can be made in respect of COVID-related sickness absences starting on or after 21 December 2021, regardless of whether you’ve claimed for that employee under the previous Scheme.
The government has said the Scheme will be reopened from ‘mid-January 2022’ and is a temporary change with the duration of the Scheme kept under review – we’ll update you further once further details and government guidance is announced.
Get in touch if you need our advice or support.