On 21st February, Boris Johnson announced that COVID laws are ending across England. COVID laws have been like a security blanket for many companies and employers, and now that they’re being removed, it falls to you as an employer to keep your workforce safe.
So, what has the government said about COVID rules ending?
The government is lifting all official mandates in England. Here’s what’s changing:
- From 24th February: There will be no legal requirement to self-isolate after a positive COVID test.
- From 24th February: Unvaccinated close contacts will also not be legally required to isolate.
- From 24th March: Covid SSP rules will return to standard Statutory Sick Pay rules.
- From 1st April: Free Covid testing will end for the general public. However, tests will remain available for the oldest age groups and those who are most vulnerable.
The end of COVID laws must be positive, right? What’s the problem?
For millions of people, it’s probably a big relief. After nearly two years of COVID laws, it shows real progress for the country.
All the same, for your workplace, it could be a bit more worrying. After all, if people can still attend work with COVID, the risk of infection spikes enormously.
Many of your staff may already be back on public transport, but they might be doing so with some concern. For example, if another passenger on their train coughs or sneezes, how do they know if it’s just a cold? Or if it’s flu? Or COVID? Without self-isolation laws or regular testing, your staff just have to hope all is well.
As a result, they may be more comfortable working at home, or simply feel scared to ‘get back to normal’. Perhaps most importantly, if you’re setting your own COVID guidelines at work, it’s up to you to get COVID guidelines ‘right’ without any laws to back you up. As a result, you’ll be under a lot of pressure.
Wait. Run that last one by me again?
The government’s focus is on you using your judgement. That means there’s more pressure on you to keep the workplace safe.
This is where things get difficult. Managers just like you might be asking questions like:
- “I have staff who don’t want to come back to work, can I force them?”
- “What measures can I take with no legal COVID guidelines in place?”
- “If somebody with COVID comes into work, what can I do?”
Now you’re the one making the rules for living with the pandemic, any mistakes are your problem. You could end up with floods of staff falling ill if you don’t take enough precautions, or a disgruntled workforce if restrictions feel too tight.
Help! I have a lot of questions.
Not surprising. It’s not going to be easy to manage living with COVID in your business. That’s exactly why you need BrightAdvice. Our expert advice line is open 24/7, giving you accurate and reliable HR and employment law advice when you need it.
So, whether you’re unsure how to deal with the staff who want to stay at home or are having trouble writing up guidelines for your workplace, there’s a wealth of expert knowledge available on our helpline.
If you’re struggling to understand the new changes or are finding the new ‘Living with COVID’ guidelines difficult to navigate, our qualified, friendly, and experienced legal advisors are on hand—at any time, day or night.
Make your transition into ‘Living with COVID’ as smooth as possible. Start your free demo today