The Government has recently announced a number of key changes to existing coronavirus legislation and further introduced new legislation, The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020.
Taking firstly the newly introduced Regulations stated above which came into force at midnight on Monday 28th September 2020, whilst these are complex the key points for all employers are;
Regulation 7 makes it an offence for an employer, where it is aware that a worker or employee is self-isolating due to a positive COVID-19 test or because they live with someone who has tested positive, to permit that employee or worker from attending not only their place of work, but any other premises, other than the location from which they are self-isolating, which is under their direction (this would include a client’s premises for example).
Regulation 8 places an obligation upon employees to inform their employer that they are self-isolating.
An employer who is found to be in breach of these Regulations is liable to a fine of not less than £1,000.
It is therefore imperative for employers to impress upon their workforce (which includes agency workers also) the need to disclose to them if they are having to self-isolate.
An employee who doesn’t inform their employer that they are legally required to self-isolate and attends business premises will not only be committing criminal offence themselves for breaching the legal requirement to self-isolate, they are likely to be subject to their employers disciplinary process and potentially face a sanction of gross misconduct.
Additionally, Government have published The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.
This amendment provides a detailed list of workplaces where face coverings must be worn during the course of employment and include;
1. A shop, but not including premises providing legal or financial services.
2. Enclosed shopping centres.
3. Restaurants with table service, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members clubs.
4. Bars, including bars in hotels, or members clubs.
5. Banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and undertakings which by way of business operate a currency exchange office, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers.
6. Post offices.
7. Community centres, youth centres, members clubs and social clubs.
8. Public areas in hotels and hostels.
9. Concert halls, exhibition halls, conference centres or other public halls.
11. Museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms and other indoor parts of tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
12. Bingo halls.
13. Public libraries and reading rooms.
Any failure to adhere to these Regulations will result in a £200 fine. This fine will be issued to the employee, not the employer. Therefore it is important that employees understand that they will be personally liable in the event of a breach.