New Covid-19 rules could see companies fined for failing to keep employees out of the workplace when they should be self-isolating.

Employers who fail to ensure staff who should be self-isolating are not coming into work could now face fines of up to £10,000. 

New rules under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came into effect on September 28th and mean that employers have a legal obligation to ensure staff who have tested for Covid-19 or have been advised to self-isolate do not come into work.

These regulations mean that failing to ensure workers are self-isolating when required is now a criminal offence. As a result, both workers and companies who do not adhere to the rules could be fined £1,000 for the first offence, with the fine increasing to £10,000 for repeated offences. 

While employers can only ensure that those they know need to self-isolate are not coming into the workplace, they should see better transparency going forward. The regulations also mean that employees need to tell the organisation they work for if they have to self-isolate. Failing to do so will see them face a fine of £50.

This means that employees who receive a positive Covid-19 test or have been told to isolate must immediately leave the workplace and tell their employer why. However, they only need to inform their employer if they receive a call from a contact tracer or a positive test result. The rules do not apply if they receive a notification from the NHS Track and Trace Covid-19 app. 

One big issue that has seen some workers be reluctant to inform their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate is the loss of income. However, the introduction of a new Test and Trace Support Payment could help encourage more people to inform their employers, as those on a low income who are unable to work from home may be eligible for a £500 payment.

Home secretary Priti Patel said: “These new measures are about saving lives. Everyone must take personal responsibility and self-isolate if they test positive or if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

“For those who fail to do so, the police will enforce the law. These new fines are a clear sign that we will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority.”

It is advised that all workers, whether they are working from home or not, inform their employers if they are advised to self-isolate. If a company has not been informed by an employee that they need to self-isolate, they may not be subject to the fine.