Is my small business exempt if one of my staff is pinged?

Government announces 16 business sectors where small business workers could be exempt from self-isolation, despite being pinged by the NHS Covid app

The government has carved out two major exemptions for workers if they are pinged by the NHS Covid app and have to self-isolate. But is your small business exempt?

First, it has approved a blanket exemption for supermarket depot workers and suppliers to come back to work, despite being alerted by the NHS Covid-19 app that they have been near someone with Covid. This is despite whether they have been vaccinated or not. Instead, they will be allowed to take daily lateral flow tests for seven days instead of self-isolating.

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

Second, the government has announced 16sectors where workers could be exempt from having to self-isolate.

Is my small business exempt from being pinged by NHS Covid app?

Workers in these 16 sectors may be exempt from self-isolation if their work is essential and critical, and if their company applies for permission from the government.

  • Energy
  • Civil nuclear
  • Digital infrastructure
  • Food production and supply
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Veterinary medicines
  • Chemicals
  • Transport
  • Medicines
  • Medical devices
  • Clinical consumable supplies
  • Emergency services
  • Border control
  • Defence
  • Local government

Frustratingly for small business owner-managers, these are not blanket exemptions — your small business must submit the name of each worker who want to exempt individually; there is no guarantee your application will be approved.

Employers will only be able to apply for an exemption from self-isolation if they are from a narrow, specified group of staff – and only after they have been pinged. This will have to be done in writing to each industry’s relevant government department, where a single senior civil servant has been designated to approve each exemption.

The exemption would then apply to that named person only for seven days, for work purposes only.

After seven days, the small business owner must reapply to extend the exemption for the remaining three days of what would have been quarantine.

The idea of the government having the resources to checke whether each individual named has had a double vaccination has raised eyebrows.

Up to 10,000 staff are expected to qualify for the scheme.

This is despite Samuel Tombs of consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics estimating that 1.77m people – 2.7 per cent of the population – are currently self-isolating.

Supermarket bosses warned that unless the government loosened self-isolation rules, food would not be on the shelves.

Business groups lobbied government to bring forward the August 16 date at which double-vaccinated people will no longer need to self-isolate given widespread warnings of shop and bar closures, food shortages and disruption to supply chains and critical industries.

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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