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September 24, 2020

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coronavirus

NHS Test and Trace service in the workplace and fines for businesses standing in the way of self-isolation

Guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service for employers, businesses and workers, while business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work could face a fine.

The NHS Test and Trace service:

  • Provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus;
  • Gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had;
  • Alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus.

By following instructions to self-isolate, people who have had close recent contact with someone with coronavirus will be protecting their family, friends, colleagues and other people around them, and will play a direct role in stopping the spread of the virus.

This guidance, for employers, businesses and workers, has been updated to reflect the new legal requirements for designated venues to collect contact details and display official NHS QR code posters.

It can be found here.

People will be required by law to self-isolate from 28 September, supported by payment of £500 for those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result.

New fines for those breaching self-isolation rules will start at £1,000 – bringing this in line with the penalty for breaking quarantine after international travel – but could increase to up to £10,000 for repeat offences and for the most egregious breaches, including for those preventing others from self-isolating.

For example, this could include business owners who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work, sending a clear message that this will not be tolerated.

A number of steps will be taken to make sure that people are complying with the rules, these include:

  • NHS Test and Trace call handlers making regular contact with those self-isolating, with the ability to escalate any suspicion of non-compliance to Local Authorities and local police;
  • Using police resources to check compliance in highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, based on local intelligence;
  • Investigating and prosecuting high-profile and egregious cases of non-compliance;
  • Acting on instances where third parties have identified others who have tested positive but are not self-isolating.

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