Ending of COVID Restrictions and Your Business
The Prime Minister announced yesterday that this Thursday (24th February), all legal COVID-19 restrictions will come to an end in England. This means that anyone who tests positive for the virus will no longer have to self-isolate.
This comes as part of the Government’s ‘Living with COVID’ plan, which will also see the end of support packages for those self-isolating.
From 24th March, employees with COVID will also no longer receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day 1 of the absence. SSP will be paid as usual after this date, from the fourth day of absence. However, small businesses will also no longer be able to claim back SSP under the Rebate Scheme. You should therefore consider how changes to sick pay will impact your employee costs going forward, as it could be unclear if this will positively or negatively impact your business.
Free testing for the virus will also be removed from 1st April. After this date, as an employer you are no longer required to explicitly consider COVID in your risk assessments.
Whilst it is understandable that employers will want to ask individuals with COVID-19 to continue to isolate under a policy, you need a sound business reason to do so, such as the need to protect particularly vulnerable staff or clients. You should also be weary of seeing the announcement as a ‘green light’ to bring all of your staff back to the office and should continue to consider individual circumstances when looking at hybrid or remote working to avoid discrimination claims.
You should also consider whether you want to continue to ask your employees to regularly test, and if so whether you will provide testing kits to staff once they are not readily available to the public.
We would suggest that as an employer, you continue to take appropriate steps to keep your employees safe from the virus. You need to decide what is fair and reasonable to ask of your employees, whilst also considering vulnerable staff that will still have concerns around coming to work.
If you need help or advice on how to handle the ending of restrictions or how it might impact your business, please get in touch today.
If you have any HR queries please give a member of the team a call today, on 01926 853388, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.arhrconsult.com for more information.