Self-isolation update: do you face a bigger risk of an outbreak?

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Self-isolation rules in the UK have changed.

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Self-isolation rules in the UK have changed.

Now, double-jabbed workers no longer need to isolate after being near someone with COVID-19. And while that’s great for business, it means staff could be more likely to bring the virus into work. Which increases your risk of a big outbreak and costly closures…

So, as you get to grips with the new rules, here’s how to stay safe, compliant, and open for business.

Keep up with self-isolation rules

To keep the virus away from your workplace, staff need to know when to self-isolate. And to avoid unnecessary staff shortages and closures, check your employees aren’t isolating when they don’t need to…

To do that, you need to be aware of the rules first.

So, remember double-vaccinated staff no longer need to isolate when:

  • Returning from countries on the green or amber list.
  • They’ve been near to someone with COVID-19.
  • They live with someone who has COVID-19.

However, your non-vaccinated staff will still need to self-isolate in these situations. And regardless of vaccination status, all staff still need to isolate when:

  • They have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • They’re waiting for PCR test results.
  • They return from a country on the red list (in a government-managed hotel).
  • They test positive for COVID-19.

Stick to preventative measures

You no longer need to follow COVID-secure guidance by law.

However, vaccinated people can still carry COVID-19 and pass it onto others. Which means, if you allow the virus to travel through your workplace, lots of your staff could soon test positive. Meaning you’d need to fill gaps in the rota or risk closing for at least 10 days…

So, it makes sense to add preventative measures to stop the virus spreading.

To reduce the spread, the government are still asking employers to:

  1. Make sure there’s fresh air running through your workplace.
  2. Keep up with regular and thorough cleaning.
  3. Turn staff and customers with COVID-19 symptoms away.
  4. Keep your staff and customers up-to-date with any safety measures.
  5. Complete a risk assessment which outlines your safety measures.

Encourage vaccine uptake

Self-isolation rules have relaxed for your double-jabbed staff. So if the majority of your workforce have now taken the vaccine, you’re less likely to deal with inconvenient staff shortages. 

But if your staff are unprotected, they still need to isolate if they get ‘pinged’ by the NHS app. And with a high infection rate, that could soon leave you seriously understaffed.

To avoid big gaps in the rota, it’s important to improve vaccine uptake in your staff. You could ask staff to answer an anonymous survey to see the level of uptake in your workforce.

If you discover there’s a high level of hesitancy, here’s how you can boost uptake:

  • Allow paid time off for vaccine appointments or side effects.
  • Share vaccine information from reliable sources.
  • Outline the benefits of taking the vaccine.
  • Invite an external healthcare expert to answer any questions.
  • Provide an incentive for vaccinated staff, like an extra day of leave. However, if you have medically-exempt staff, be careful – as this could be seen as discrimination.

Use lateral flow testing

Any boss would rather avoid closing due to a COVID-positive workforce. And to do that, it’s up to you to prevent the virus passing between your staff.

Instead of trying to limit the spread after the virus has hit your workforce, it’s easier to avoid reaching that stage.

This could mean providing lateral flow tests and asking staff to share their results before starting work. Or, you can ask employees and customers to fill out a checklist of COVID-19 symptoms on entry.

If workers or customers display any symptoms, ask them to take a PCR test and self-isolate while they wait for the results.

Track who’s taken the vaccine

Before the recent update, the same isolation rules applied for all employees.

But now, your non-vaccinated workers face a higher chance of self-isolation. And to keep these staff both safe and in work, you may need to do more to protect them…

And to do that, you’ll need to know who hasn’t received the jab.

That’s where VaccTrak comes in. With BrightHR, you can track and record who’s received the vaccine in your workforce. So, you’ll know who needs extra protection at the touch of a button.

Plus, you can check whether your staff are following the correct isolation rules – meaning you’re confident your employees aren’t wrongly isolating or showing up to work.

Get unlimited health & safety advice 

Even if you follow all the right procedures, the risk of a COVID outbreak remains high.

And if the virus hits your business, you’ll need to prevent it spreading around your entire workforce. And fast.

That’s why, with Peninsula, you get 24/7 access to health & safety advice. So, whenever you face an emergency, you get hands-on support to keep your people safe and your business open.

Ready to reduce your risk? Get a quick quote for affordable health & safety support.

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