Self-isolation FAQs

Coronavirus Self-isolation FAQs

Any individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus) must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when their symptoms started. Full guidance can be found here:

From 28 September, individuals could be fined if they do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 or if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate. The fines for those who break the self-isolation rules start at £1,000 and the fine can be up to £10,000 for repeat offences. Employers can also face fines of up to £10,000 if they prevent staff from self-isolating.

On 20 September, the government confirmed a Test and Trace support payment scheme which pays £500 to both employed and self-employed people on low incomes, who are required to self-isolate from 28 September. This support payment scheme is designed so that those on low income can self-isolate without breaking the rules and working away from home. The scheme will only support people who are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

Do employers have to pay staff who are self-isolating?

Provided they meet the qualifying conditions, employees should receive statutory sick pay (SSP) if they:

· Are self-isolating because they have tested positive for COVID-19;

· Are waiting for test results because they are suspected of having COVID-19;

· Have COVID-19 symptoms;

· Live with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms;

· Have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by Public Health officials;

· Have been advised to stay at home for a period of 14 days after being admitted to hospital for the purpose of undergoing a surgical or other hospital procedure.

In these circumstances, the first three ‘waiting days’ do not apply and SSP is payable from the first day of absence. If employees can work from home whilst they are self-isolating, they should receive their normal pay.

What are the penalties that employers could face for preventing employees from self-isolating?

If reported, an employer could face fines of up to £10,000 if they prevent staff from self-isolating by, for instance, insisting staff attend the workplace or threatening self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work.

Can an employer instruct an employee who may be at risk of having contracted coronavirus not to come to work?

Employers are under a duty to ensure the health and safety of all their employees and to provide a safe workplace. It follows, therefore, that an employer should instruct an employee with the coronavirus symptoms, or who shares a household with someone with symptoms, not to attend work and to follow the current government guidance on self-isolation.

Do employees have to tell their employers if they have had a positive coronavirus test result?

Yes. Employees should follow their employer’s normal sickness absence reporting procedures and explain why they are not in work on the first day of absence and continue to keep the employer updated. Employees will not be able to visit their GP to obtain a fit note, but employers can ask to see a copy of their test results.

Are employers required to close their workplace if they identify a risk of contact with coronavirus?

Employers are not required to close their workplace if someone suspected to have coronavirus (COVID-19) is at/has been to the workplace. The government and the Health and Safety Executive provide guidance on cleaning which employers should follow if an employee or visitor has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus:

If an employee has coronavirus symptoms while at work, the employer should advise them to go home immediately and follow the government guidance on testing and self-isolation.