What to do if your employee contracts COVID-19 – 5 Steps to Compliance

September marks the start of the new school year and a return to the workplace for many employees who spent the spring and summer months working from home. Those employees anxious about returning to work will have been reassured by the “Working safely during coronavirus” guidelines introduced by the Government to ensure employers takes steps to keep their employees safe and healthy while at work.

However, what if despite an employer’s best efforts one of their returning employees contracts Covid-19.  What action must an employer take?

The following steps are recommended:

  1. Monitor exposure: An employer must monitor exposure to coronavirus in the workplace.  This will involve keeping a record of any employees in the workplace who test positive for Covid-19.
  2. Employee self-isolates: The employee must self-isolate for 14 days during which they will be entitled to receive statutory sick pay or contractual sick pay.
  3. Alert any close contact colleagues: The NHS Test and Trace service will ask the employee to provide details of anyone with whom they have been in recent close contact with.  By “close contact” is meant any person to whom the infected employee was close at any time from 2 days before the employee showed symptoms to up to 7 days after the onset of symptoms. It includes not only close face-to-face contact but also being in close proximity to the employee for more than 15 minutes. The employer should alert any co-workers of the infected employee who may be close contacts.  When doing so, the employer should bear in mind the need to comply with data protection obligations and only share details of the employee’s diagnosis where there is a lawful reason for doing so. Co-workers who have been in close contact with the infected employee do not need to self-isolate unless told to do so by NHS Test and Trace or a public health professional.  They should nevertheless take precautions to avoid spreading the virus. The employer should therefore consider permitting them to work from home for a short period instead of coming into the office.
  4. Clean the office: The workplace must be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with Government guidance on how to clean an area that was recently visited by an individual with Covid-19.
  5. Reporting obligations: Under the RIDDOR* reporting obligations, an employer must make a report to the Health and Safety Executive if an employee contracts Covid-19 as a result of “occupational exposure”, that is, as a result of their work.  In most cases it will be difficult to pinpoint the workplace as the cause of infection because the employee may well have contracted the virus outside of work.

Multiple cases of Covid-19 in the workplace must be reported to the employer’s local health protection team.

*RIDDOR means the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

LexLeyton can assist employers with advice on any particular issues arising from employees returning to the workplace. If a free consultation with one of our expert employment law solicitors around this or any other related issue would be of help just pop your details over to us at https://lexleyton.co.uk/free-consultation/ or  contact us at legal@lexleyton.co.uk

*RIDDOR means the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

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