• rradar

New Amendments To Self-Isolation For Critical Industries

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

In response to the 1.3 million people in England who are currently in self-isolation, and the mounting pressure that is causing on what are deemed to be critical industries in England, the Government have released a very small exemption list of close contacts who have been “pinged” by either the NHS App or notified by NHS Test & Trace. This list was expanded on Monday 26th July.

These changes only apply to England at present.

To help relieve this pressure, the Government have confirmed a list of critical industries in England where those working within these industries can leave self-isolation early and return to their workplace, providing they meet the eligibility criteria.

Companies in these industries will only be eligible for this exception where the company receives a formal letter from the Government confirming their company name is listed as part of this exemption:

  • Energy

  • Civil nuclear

  • Digital infrastructure

  • Food production and supply

  • Waste

  • Water

  • Veterinary medicines

  • Essential chemicals

  • Essential transport

  • Medicines

  • Medical devices

  • Clinical consumable supplies

  • Emergency services

  • Border control

  • Essential defence outputs

  • Local Government

  • Prisons

  • Defence staff such as soldiers

  • Refuse collectors

  • Some veterinary staff and telecoms organisations

Those working in the above industries, whose company has had a letter from the Government confirming their eligibility, can be asked by their employer to leave their self-isolation to return to work to perform their jobs, providing each person is first able to meet all of the following criteria:

  • If the self-isolation of these employees who have been told to self-isolation as close contacts would “result in serious disruptions to critical services on this list”.

  • They do not have any symptoms of COVID-19

  • They have had a recent negative PCR or lateral flow test result

  • They have had both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccination (this can be proved using the NHS App to generate a COVID Pass or with a COVID Pass letter)

If any of the above criteria do not apply, then even where their company is on this list, the individual must remain at home for their full period of self-isolation.

These exemptions are only intended to run until 16th August, at which time the regulations will then change as announced by Government for all sectors. It is worth noting however that at present the Government have announced that this list will be reviewed on a daily basis, and it is anticipated that there will be frequent changes to the industries and companies notified as the situation changes. As such, companies are advised to review this list daily for their own understanding and awareness of how it applies to them.

Even with these new Government amendments though, where an employee or worker refuses to leave their self-isolation, despite working for a company of the exemption list and meeting the eligibility criteria, the employer will need to remain mindful of Sections 44 & 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 which enables the employee or worker to refuse to attend their workplace where they feel there is a serious and imminent threat to their health & safety, which they could not have been reasonably expected to avert, including a biological threat such as COVID-19.

As such, we here at rradar would advise that in this situation, you allow employees who are eligible to chose whether they wish to return to work, or remain in self-isolation, so as to not breach their employment rights by coercing them to return or threatening them with reprisals such as dismissal if they do not comply.