“Help! I think my employee has attended a social gathering!”

Kevin Bennett

February 12 2021

For a long while now, large social gatherings have been prohibited because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This poses a challenge for employers in that, while they have a duty of care to all employees, they can’t keep an eye on employees around the clock.

So, what are your options regarding employees who attend a social gathering? And what can you do to protect your staff?

What if I find out an employee has attended a gathering?

If you discover that an employee has attended a social gathering, even an informal social gathering, you may be concerned about a potential coronavirus outbreak in your workplace. Such an outbreak could also pose operational difficulties and reputational damage to your business.

The first step to avoiding this is ensuring your staff are fully aware of the restrictions that are in place. Keeping staff updated on changes to government guidance is important so they know your priorities lie with their health & safety.

Employees, of course, are free to make their own decisions outside working hours. However, when these decisions affect their own or their colleagues’ ability to work safely, there are questions that need to be asked.

What can I do?

You may have concerns regarding a staff member breaking COVID restrictions and attending a large social gathering. If so, you can require them to be placed on medical suspension given your health & safety concerns.

This would be at their contractual rate of pay. You could implement this for the 10-day period that current advice indicates a contact should self-isolate for. Having a strong COVID-19 policy in place that allows you to place an employee on medical suspension and request a test is essential.  

During this time, you can also request an employee to take a COVID-19 test. They’re under no obligation to undertake this, however, so be mindful that you cannot enforce this without risking a case of potential constructive dismissal or discrimination.

What if an untested employee is showing symptoms?

If an employee attends work with coronavirus symptoms, without having been tested, there’s greater risk as they may have passed it on to colleagues.

Currently, government advice for those displaying symptoms is to get tested and self-isolate while awaiting results. If they’ve failed to do this, and test positive, there may be a case for investigating in line with your disciplinary procedures.

How can I manage the vaccine rollout in my business?

Our new online tool VaccTrak will help you keep track of who’s had the COVID-19 vaccine in your business.

VaccTrak allows you to:

  • Update your employee profiles to easily record who’s had the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Download regular reports to see exactly who’s been vaccinated, so you can keep your people safe during the vaccine roll-out.
  • Download professional letter templates to encourage your staff to have the vaccine.
  • Access our exclusive vaccine awareness course. Share it with your staff to educate them on the vaccine and answer any complex questions.

Need help with your HR and health & safety issues?

For instant, unlimited advice on your HR and health & safety issues, call our 24/7 helpline now on 0800 917 0771.

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