Covid - Managing Employees with Symptoms

It’s not going away! With a recent and significant increase in cases, and local lockdown increasingly being imposed across areas of the UK, the country seems to be going backwards in its struggle against Covid-19. The most common theme in calls to the help line recently has been how to deal with employees who attend the workplace with symptoms.

Adhering to the Government guidelines remains paramount of course and we shouldn’t let our attention slip from the most basic measures of regular handwashing, keeping our distance from others and self-isolating if we show symptoms. However we may need to deal with those who are in denial about having the disease and/or are afraid of not being able to earn enough money to live.

It’s highly likely that some of the cases we heard about of widespread contagion within food processing plants in the north of England were bought about because people who had symptoms still reported to work because they were worried about not being paid.

The Government’s big battle amongst all of this is that of the economy versus the health of the nation. A tightening of restrictions in the hospitality sector has already been mooted, but all industries and businesses need to play their part.

We’ve put together a guidance document for employers regarding the various scenarios that might be faced should an employee present for work with symptoms. It’s available for download from the Toolkits section of our website. Here’s a synopsis.

Individual should not go to the workplace if they:

  • Are unwell with suspected coronavirus symptoms
  • Are told to self-isolate by a Government Test and Trace service
  • Someone they live in close proximity with has been advised to self-isolate and/or has symptoms.

Employees who need to self-isolate should:

  • Tell their employer and go home
  • Avoid touching anything
  • Follow cleaning guidelines
  • Track and trace those in the company that they have been in close contact

If someone with coronavirus symptoms has come into work:

  • Send the employee home and recommend testing
  • Follow Public Health England cleaning advice
  • Review company risk measures and how “close contact” was not managed if this is the case.

If close contact occurred

  • Avoid contact with people at high increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus
  • Take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene
  • Watch out for symptoms and self-isolate if they also show signs of coronavirus

What is close contact? Close ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from 2 days before the person was symptomatic up to 7 days from onset of This could be a person who:

  • Spends significant time in the same household
  • Is a sexual partner
  • Has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), including:

What happens if you or others identify that employees have been exposed to Covid-19 through close contact at work?
You need to complete an HSE RIDDOR on line (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) as a person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a case of disease.

Multiple cases in the workplace?
If there is more than one case of COVID-19 in a workplace, employers should contact their local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak.

As usual, this information is for guidance only. For specific advice and support you should contact us direclty. Call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.