How can we ensure that employees inform us if they are told to isolate as part of the test and trace system?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 6 July 2020
Johanna Cunningham
Arthur Cox
Issues covered: Coronavirus; Sickness and Absence; Test and Trace; Health and Safety

This is a concern for many employers, particularly as employees who are advised to self-isolate will likely only be entitled to receive SSP (unless their contract permits them to receive enhanced sick pay). As the current SSP entitlement is £95.85 per week, employees may not want to inform their employers due to the financial disadvantage of being on SSP. 

Unfortunately it will be very difficult for employers to ensure that their employers will be honest and inform them if they are told to isolate by PHA. However, there are steps that employers can take to try and encourage employees to do so. For example:

  • Ensure that employees are aware of their health and safety obligations. Employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees under the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 but employees also have an obligation to cooperate with their employers to help them comply with their duties.
  • Inform employees that because of health and safety requirements, they must inform them immediately if they receive a notification to self-isolate from the PHA.
  • Make employees aware that a failure to follow PHA instructions could put their colleagues at risk and may constitute misconduct and be dealt with via a disciplinary process.
  • Consider what pay isolating employees will be entitled to. If employees cannot work from home and are only entitled to SSP, employers may opt instead to pay employees full pay to ensure that they are not dis-incentivised from self-isolating. However, this could be problematic if an employee receives more than one notification to self-isolate.
  • Assess whether there are alternative duties that an isolating employee could carry out from home (if their usual role would not permit home working).
Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 06/07/2020
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Johanna Cunningham
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Johanna Cunningham. Contact telephone number is Johanna Cunningham or email belfast@arthurcox.com

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