Changes to self isolation rules
Everyone who develops symptoms of the Coronavirus should immediately self isolate and book a PCR test.
If an employee reports symptoms consistent with coronavirus, employers should make sure they self‑isolate at home straight away. Until they have been tested and told if it is safe to leave home, employers should make sure that staff do not have to, or feel that they have to, come in to work.
If employees are able to and they are not unwell, employers can ask employees to work from home during the self isolation period.
The Scottish Government and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) made a joint statement on fair work expectations at the start of the pandemic, which still applies now: it said that no worker should be financially penalised by their employer for following medical advice, and any absence from work relating to COVID-19 should not affect future sick pay entitlement, result in disciplinary action or count towards any future sickness absence related action.
Employers should not ask someone isolating to come into work before their period of isolation is complete, in any circumstances. If you’re a member of staff, you should not be asked to go to your place of work, or leave the place where you are isolating.
Self-Isolation Support Grant
If an employee is contacted by the Test & Protect Service and told to self-isolate because of Coronavirus, they may be eligible for a payment of £500 to help with their expenses.
They must be unable to work from home and be in receipt of one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Income Based Employment & Support Allowance, Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.
If your employee’s child has been told to self isolate which means they cannot work for the period, they are able to apply for the grant. In addition, your employees will be eligible for the payment if they don’t get Universal Credit, but their local authority believe they would qualify for it if they applied. This is to help speed up the process and ensure those who need it, will receive the payment quickly.
Applications can be made through their local authority. Further information relating to eligibility and criteria can be found here.
Asymptomatic workplace testing rollout
Organisations with 10 or more employees can now sign up for asymptomatic workplace testing, in an effort to identify Coronavirus cases earlier and prevent wider outbreaks. This programme does not replace the existing guidance for those showing symptoms, who should continue to get a PCR test and follow self isolation guidelines until they know the result of the test.
Organisations with less than 10 employees should continue to encourage staff to regularly test themselves at home using a Lateral Flow test, which can be picked up from local pharmacies or ordered online.
Vaccinations and the workplace
The vaccination programme has been in place for quite some time now. While getting the Coronavirus vaccine is not mandatory, it is encouraged. If you feel that it is important your employees are vaccinated, you should be mindful that there are many reasons why individuals do not want to take it. It’s also important to remind your employees to treat their colleagues with respect, regardless of their decision. Burness Paull wrote a guest post for TFN that outlines some legal considerations in relation to the vaccine rollout. Brodies have also published a blog about potential data protection implications of employers holding vaccination data. You can also use materials from the NHS awareness campaign to help inform your employees and guidance from the Scottish Government.
Implementing a policy can help to maintain a consistent approach to the vaccination process. This template policy and supporting guidance document helps with how to manage the process in the workplace, keeping a record on who has received a vaccination and how to manage challenging situations, such as staff or volunteers who do not want to be vaccinated.
For those previously advised to shield, it is now safe to go to work if they cannot work from home. More detailed advice and information can be found on the Scottish Government pages.
Time off to look after dependents
Schools and Early Learning Childcare settings are now open full time, but there may still be occasions where parents need to take time off work if their child needs to self isolate due to Coronavirus.
Rules relating to under 18s and self isolation can be found on the Scottish Government website.
Annual Leave and Carry Overs
The UK Government have relaxed the rules surrounding annual leave in light of Coronavirus. Where is has not been reasonably possible for a worker to take some or all of their annual leave during 2020-2021 because of the effects of Coronavirus, they are able to carry forward any untaken amount into the following two leave years (2021-2022 and 2022-2023)
You can find more information on the dedicated government page for holiday entitlement.