The legal requirement to self-isolate after coming into contact with a positive COVID-19 case has been removed. This applies to all adults who have received two vaccination doses and for those under 18.
However, just because this is no longer a legal requirement, it does not necessarily mean that some employees feel comfortable doing so.
A recent study found that 60 per cent of workforce would not feel comfortable skipping isolation, even if they were legally exempt.
Therefore, employers risk landing themselves in a difficult situation if they try to force a double-jabbed employee into work when they insist on self-isolating.
This raises the important question of what employees ought to do when workers refuse to attend work.
Do employees have the right to self-isolate?
Employees do not have the right to choose to self-isolate if they are not required to by law. They will also no longer qualify for statutory sick pay.
As they will have chosen not to attend work, there is no right to be paid. Alternatively, using up holiday days or taking unpaid leave can be agreed with employers.
Employees may suggest being furloughed; however, this will be entirely up to the employer, and it is important to note that the furlough scheme is scheduled to be withdrawn on 30 September 2021.
Some employers may want to introduce a policy that requires an employee who has been in close contact with a positive coronavirus case to stay away from the workplace.
If the employer instructed the employee to not attend work, then there would still be an obligation to pay them.
What are the legal implications if employees are told they must attend work?
If employers decide to tell their employees they must attend work, they could potentially open themselves up to claims for constructive dismissal.
Employees could argue that these actions breach essential trust meaning they could treat themselves as dismissed.
Firing employees for insisting on self-isolation could be deemed as unfair unless the employer can prove a fair reason for this dismissal.
If an employee is vulnerable, this could open up concerns or feelings of anxiety in the wider workforce about a potential infectious member of staff attending work.
Healthy workers should not be put in a position at work where they could endanger themselves or others. Therefore, if an employee attends work because they were insisted to, even after expressing concerns about health and safety, this could give rise to a potential employment tribunal claim.
This is due to a blatant breach of health and safety law that could spread Coronavirus to people in high-risk groups.
At HR Caddy, we always keep up to date with all the latest legislation, best practice guidance and trends.
That means we are perfectly placed to offer you advice on all HR matters regarding the latest COVID-19 updates and what this means for your business.
For more help or advice on related matters, please contact us today.