Covid and employment law: latest updates

Mandatory vaccines

Healthcare leaders in England are being advised not to serve termination notices to unvaccinated staff as the government prepares to withdraw measures to make vaccination a condition of deployment. It is still best practice to encourage staff to take up the vaccinations, while being mindful of any medical exemptions.

SSP

The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate scheme closes on March 17, meaning practices can no longer claim back SSP for coronavirus-related absence or self-isolation. The normal SSP rules are back in place – so employees will not be paid SSP until the fourth qualifying day.

Self-isolation

England: Employees are no longer required by law to self-isolate following a positive test but are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days. Close contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or take daily tests. Employees no longer legally need to inform the practice that they have the virus.

Scotland: The existing rules on self-isolation remain in place and the requirement is to self-isolate for 10 days. People who test positive for Covid will be allowed to exit self-isolation early if they have two negative lateral flow tests from day six onwards.

Wales: Employees are required to self-isolate for five full days.

Northern Ireland: There is no legal requirement to self-isolate. But those who test positive or have symptoms of Covid are advised to isolate for 10 days. Isolation can end early if you have two consecutive negative lateral flow tests, 24 hours apart, from day six. And you do not have a high temperature. Fully vaccinated close contacts should isolate and take a lateral flow test as soon as possible.

Other changes

In England, the Living with Covid plan is due to come into effect and all remaining Covid restrictions will end.

In Scotland, from March 21, the legal requirement to wear face coverings will be downgraded to guidance but people are strongly advised to continue to wear masks in shops, hospitality venues and public transport and social distancing and screens are no longer required. 

In Wales some measures remain in place such as face coverings in shops, hospitals and public transport.

In Northern Ireland, mandatory face coverings, track and trace requirements and the cap on 30 people in private homes are no longer legal requirements, as legal measures have been replaced by guidance.

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