Self-isolation rules to be relaxed for double-jabbed key workers, Boris Johnson announces
In the first week of July 2021, the NHS Test and Trace app ‘pinged’ 500,000 people, and as a result many businesses were experiencing staff shortages. Staff shortages were particularly prominent in industries where employees come into contact with a larger number of people daily, such as hospital and care home staff, retail and hospitality workers.
Following pressure from organisations such as the CIPD, the CBI, the TUC, Unite and the UK Major Ports Group, retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Iceland and Morrisons, and pub chain Greene King, Boris Johnson yesterday lead a virtual press conference from his Buckinghamshire Chequers residence (having been told to isolate following Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s positive test).
During the press conference the Prime Minister told the public that restrictions around self-isolating will be loosened for a “very small number” of fully vaccinated critical workers, such as those involved in transport and defence.
Boris Johnson said; “I want to assure you that we will protect crucial services – including the staffing of our hospitals and care homes, the supplies of food, water, electricity and medicines, the running of our trains, the protection of our borders, the defence of our realm – by making sure that a small number, a very small number, of named, fully-vaccinated critical workers are able to leave their isolation solely for the work that I have described.”
It is important to note that the exemption applies only to work time; and key workers will be expected to self-isolate at all other times outside of work until the 10 day isolation period is up.
From 16 August, it is expected that the self-isolation rules will be updated for those fully vaccinated. Employers must be aware that not all employees will want to take up the vaccine, for any number of reasons (more on that here).
Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD advised that employers be flexible and attempt to free up staff from less business-critical areas, and use temporary workers where possible. He also suggested firms continue to implement Covid-secure workplace policies, including the use of screens, barriers and masks, despite the relaxation of official guidance.
“Employers should continue to encourage people to work from home where possible, to reduce the number of contacts their staff have in the workplace or when travelling to work”, he said. “For roles where employees need to be in the workplace, organisations should continue using measures to reduce staff contact, such as staggered start and finish times.”
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