Am I liable if staff come to work instead of self-isolating?

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

November 11 2020

From the 28th of September 2020, it became law for employees to self-isolate if told to do so due to potential or confirmed coronavirus exposure.

Breaching these rules can lead to significant fines. And in some cases, this liability also extends to employers.       

Here’s everything you need to know about how the new rules affect you.

What is the penalty for employers who breach self-isolation rules?

If an employer asks a member of staff who is self-isolating to come into work, then the employer will have committed an offence.

They will face a fixed penalty notice of £1,000, which will rise to £10,000 for fourth offences and above.

This rule extends to locations beyond an employee’s usual place of work. For example, you cannot ask an employee who is self-isolating to visit a client or colleague for work-related reasons.

Likewise, employees in self-isolation cannot ‘choose’ to come to work. Employers who ‘knowingly’ allow staff who are self-isolating to come to the workplace are breaking the law.

What if an employee doesn’t tell me that they need to self-isolate?

Under the law, an employee must tell you if they are self-isolating and unable to come into work.  

If they choose not to tell you and come into work anyway, then you may still be liable.

Therefore, you need to make sure that all staff know what to do if asked to self-isolate. That includes setting a clear process to follow when they need to notify you

It’s also important to highlight the consequences of not following this process. For example, failure to adhere to the rules could result in you taking disciplinary action.

Can I ask for proof that someone needs to self-isolate?

Yes. Employees who need to self-isolate can get an ‘isolation note’ online.

Can I ask staff to work from home while self-isolating?

You can ask staff to work from home if they are well enough to do so.

However, you cannot ask or encourage them to leave for work-related purposes.

Do I need to give staff sick-pay while they are self-isolating?

If a worker or employee has to self-isolate and cannot work, then you need to pay them at least Statutory Sick Pay. You must pay this from the first day that they cannot work, provided the sickness or isolation period is at least four days long.

However, if your employee needs to self-isolate after travelling for non-work-related reasons, then you do not have to give them sick pay.      

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees may be able to claim the cost of up to two weeks’ worth of Statutory Sick Pay for each employee back from the government.

What if staff need to self-isolate after travelling abroad?

The same self-isolation rules apply to staff who need to quarantine after travelling abroad. You cannot ask or allow them to come to work. 

Confused by the rules? Call for help

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had a major impact on UK employment laws. That’s why Peninsula’s here to help.

For instant advice on how the new self-isolation rules affect your business, speak to one of our legal experts today on 0800 028 2420

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