Following the changes announced at the weekend by Boris Johnson as a result of the new variant of Covid-19 Omicron being identified what do you need to know as an employer?
Changes to Isolation for close contacts of positive cases with the Omicron variant
All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. Households of cases with the Omicron variant will need to isolate and individuals who have been in close contact with a positive case will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to advise them that they need to isolate. Usual sick pay rules will apply and eligibility for SSP remains the same (although you can no longer claim this back), details can be found HERE. You can also consider whether any work from home can be done where possible. Test and trace payments are still available for individuals on a low income and who cannot work from home. They need to apply themselves and further details can be found HERE.
Isolation following Travel
All international arrivals into the UK must take a day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from 4am on Tuesday 30 November 2021. This may impact on those pre-booked holidays or for people who are currently away who may need additional time off while awaiting their results. You may need to consider allowing staff to take additional holiday, or unpaid leave or whether they can work from home if possible.
South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe moved onto the red list at 12 midday on Friday 26 November 2021. If an individual has been in any of these countries within 10 days of their arrival in England and they arrived between midday on Friday 26 November and 4am on Sunday 28 November 2021, they must quarantine at home or at alternative appropriate accommodation and follow the guidance HERE.
If they arrived in England from any of these countries after 4am on 28 November 2021, they must follow standard red list rules which can be found HERE. They must quarantine in a managed hotel and take 2 Covid-19 tests.
The wearing of facemasks will now be mandatory in all shops and on public transport from Tuesday 30 November 2021. Hospitality is not included within these measures. This will be reviewed by the Government after 3 weeks.
Employers within these environments will need to revisit and update risk assessments. Other employers may also wish to revisit their risk assessments if they feel the use of facemasks will help to reduce the risk of transmission.