Since 28 September 2020, there is a legal obligation on you to ensure your staff don't breach self-isolation rules in order to work for you. This applies to all employers in England. There are also notification obligations on your staff.

We've covered the obligations in our new Coronavirus sick leave and pay policy, which enables you to communicate to your staff detailed information and procedures for coronavirus-related absences.

When the obligations apply

The obligations apply when your staff member is told to self-isolate due to:

  • having tested positive for COVID-19;
  • having had close contact with someone who has; or
  • returning to England from a country on the quarantine list.

The first 2 of these apply where the staff member is told to do so by either the health service or local authority. They do not apply if they were told to self-isolate through the NHS COVID-19 App.

Your obligations

If you're aware that a member of staff (including any agency workers) must self-isolate, you must not knowingly allow them to enter your workplace, or to attend any other place for the purposes of work. If they're well and can work from their self-isolation location (e.g. home), they can still do so.

If the staff member is an agency worker, you also have an obligation to pass on the information: if an agency worker informs their agency, their principal or their employer that they need to self-isolate, the informed party must then pass that information on to the other applicable parties.

Failing to meet these obligations is a criminal offence and could lead to a fine of £1,000, rising to as much as £10,000 for serious or repeat offences.

Obligations for your staff

Staff who know they must self-isolate and who don't already work from their isolation location during the isolation period, must tell you that they are required to self-isolate, along with when their isolation period will start and end. They must do this as soon as reasonably possible, and before they're due to start work during the isolation period.

Agency workers must inform their agency, their principal or their employer (where their employer isn't the agent or the principal).

Your staff would be committing a criminal offence and could be fined £50 by police if they fail to meet these obligations.