Do staff have to self-isolate if they’ve been pinged by the NHS Covid app?

Small businesses are having to close because of staff shortages caused by staff being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app. Can you ask employees to come to work even if they’ve been pinged?

If you get pinged, is it a legal requirement (a) for individuals to self-isolate or (b) for employers to enforce it?

Being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app is entirely different being asked to isolate from NHS test and trace system. If you are asked to self-isolate by NHS test and trace it is a legal requirement. If you are pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app at the moment it is just guidance. You are advised but not legally obliged to self-isolate for 10 days, which means that that if an employer cannot requiree you to necessarily self-isolate, They can ask you to come into work. But then the employer has to bear in mind their obligations and duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Do people on zero-hours contracts have the legal right to go into work?

They do. The government is saying that it’s crucial that you self-isolate, but you are just advised to self-isolate. The individual should tell their employer so that the employer can make an assessment as to whether you’re creating a risk for someone else by going into the workplace.

>See also: 20% of business workers self-isolating due to Covid

What is a reasonable request by an employer for staff to return to work?

It is subjective. It should engender a conversation between the worker and employer. The employer under the Health and Safety obligation should be consulting its workforce more widely to understand what the risks in relation for people coming in. Is it reasonable for people to be coming in if they are working side by side in close contact with other people?

It may be reasonable with the addition of PPE you can retain some form of social distancing and can maintain some form or protection for other members of staff.

You can require the individual to take a lateral flow test in order to minimise the risk of them inadvertently passing on Covid.

Emma Bartlett, partner at employment law specialists CM Murray was speaking to Amol Rajan on the Radio 4 Today programme

Further reading

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

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Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...

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  1. Some UK holiday parks are deciding for staff and taking the choice to self isolate away from individuals who are pinged by the NHS app because it is inconvenient for them to not have that person work

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