Friday, 14 April 2023 11:47

Covid - Part of Life

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) have stopped updating it’s Covid insights web page and results of the infection survey from 24th March were the last to be published on the website. This is a clear indication that as far as the Government is concerned, Covid has become part of everyday life and a disease like any other that no longer warrants special attention.

The jury is still out on whether or not Long Covid will be categorised as a disability, thereby making it unlawful to discriminate against and require employers to consider reasonable adjustments for workers who suffer from it. Notwithstanding, because there tends to be more cases of Long Covid amongst older people, women and ethnic minorities, an element of potential discrimination already exists.

We still receive calls to the helpline from employers who need support in knowing what to do when handling Covid cases amongst there employees. Advice will vary depending on the industry, the people who work on site and who employees come into contact with. Guidance for care homes is very different to that for construction workers for example.

The final Weekly Covid-19 Infection Survey released by the ONS reveals a recent increase of cases in England and as many as 1 in 40 people in the country are currently infected. This may be a result of more people staying indoors together because of the wetter weather, but it’s a reminder that we should stay vigilant. Over 600 people have been dying in the UK in recent weeks where Covid was a factor.

Employers not only need to look out for their employees’ welfare, they must also remember that absence effects productivity and therefore the performance and profitability of their business. It might not be too difficult to imagine a business that gets into financial difficulties because it got sloppy over its Covid management and mitigation.

The law doesn’t say you must isolate if you are Covid positive any more, so this this is a grey area. But, employers who allow Covid positive individuals into the workplace potentially put their colleagues at risk (particularly the vulnerable which includes those who are pregnant) and expose themselves to having more employees being sick.

As businesses, we should have these ingrained in us by now but it never hurts to have a quick reminder of the key elements for employers to consider:

  • Covid remains a highly transmissible disease that poses a significant risk to business continuity when it is identified in the workplace.
  • In all cases, the overriding consideration is an employer’s duty of care and their responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their work activities. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.
  • Covid is now treated in the same way as any other sick absence and the normal sick pay rules apply.
  • Guidance states that people who test positive or who have Covid symptoms should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days. They should also avoid contact with those that are higher risk from Covid for 10 days. This period starts the day after a positive test.
  • If individuals feel unwell but have either tested negative or not tested positive, they should still avoid contact with people and especially those considered to be vulnerable.
  • If a person has Covid symptoms or tests positive, they should work from home where this is possible to act in line with current Government guidance and for at least the 5-day period.
  • If the infected employee’s job is one where they are not able to work from home, then they should not be in work and should be on sick leave.
  • If an infected employee’s position is one where they are able to work from home, but they are too ill to work, then again, they should be on sick leave. Their absence should be used to rest and recuperate.

If you do allow Covid-positive people into the workplace, or if you turn a blind eye to employees with symptoms, then you should be confident that you have robust procedures in place that are preventing the risk of transmission and that your employees are fully confident and pro-active with these arrangements.

The .Gov website is still probably the best source of information regarding Covid, but if you need help with interpreting what they it says or you need support with a specific case, we’re here to help. Call us on 01452 331331 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 594 times Last modified on Friday, 14 April 2023 11:52


HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

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We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.