Sadly, as I write this article, the latest Covid-19 statistics that are being set out by the government make it clear that the numbers of new cases are going to remain high for some time to come.
As a result of this, we are receiving more calls from employers struggling to understand what to do if one or more employees develop symptoms or become unwell.
Below I have listed the six most common questions we have been asked this year.
1. Can I still go to work?
The government advice is that wherever possible people should only leave home for a limited number of reasons, and one of those is if your work cannot be carried out from home, for example, construction and manufacturing (this does not, however, include office based administrative tasks for construction or manufacturing companies). The requirement is that employers must provide every possible resource including IT and equipment to allow workers to work remotely.
2. When do I need to report cases of Covid-19 among my workforce and to whom?
The latest guidance from Public Health England does not specify the number of cases which would trigger a requirement to notify them. They do however advise that employers should notify them if the number of cases continues regardless of the control measures they put in place.
The HSE however have stated that where two or more cases result from exposure at work, this should be reported as an occupational exposure to coronavirus under RIDDOR.
Sadly, should a worker die as a result of contracting Covid-19 at work, and this was directly caused by the way work was carried out, the fatality has to be recorded as a work-related death.
For construction sites, Build UK recommend that where there are more than five cases occurring within 14 days, Public Health England should be informed.
3. Who needs to self-isolate?
The requirement for self-isolation arises for those persons contacted by test and trace, anyone testing positive or displaying symptoms for Covid-19.
People are not required to self-isolate where a member of their family is contacted by test and trace but will have to if that member of their family tests positive or develops symptoms. Similarly, you do not have to self-isolate if a colleague develops symptoms. However, if you recognise that you have been in close contact you should expect a call from test and trace, instructing you to do so.
4. What is a Close Contact?
A Close Contact is someone who has had face-to-face contact (within 1 metre) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including: being coughed on; having a face-to-face conversation within 1 metre; having physical contact; or contact within 1 metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact.
It is also a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes or a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive.
5. Who should be tested?
You can only get a free NHS test if at least one of the following applies:
- you have a high temperature,
- you have a new, continuous cough,
- you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed,
- you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council,
- you’re taking part in a government pilot project, or
- you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result.
You can also get a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms, and you may need to get tested if you’re due to have surgery or a procedure.
6. When does the isolation period start?
The period of self-isolation starts from the date of a positive PCR type Covid-19 test or first symptoms, whichever is the sooner.
Our portal, MyTHSP, hosts a wide range of Covid-19 resources to help you manage health, safety and employment issues during these difficult times, but if you have any questions, contact your Account Executive who will make sure they are passed to the right person to help you.