The Impact of the ‘Pingdemic’ on Employers
Staff shortages as a result of the so-called ‘pingdemic’ are leading to temporary closures of some businesses and a knock on effect with goods being in short supply – so what can employers do and how to they stand legally?
There is no legal obligation to self-isolate if you are ‘pinged’ by the NHS app, but it is a matter for each individual and so employers are faced with an issue – they cannot force a staff member to come into work if they want to self-isolate, neither can they tell them to delete the app.
With restrictions lifting more and more people are socialising and so consequently there has been an increase in close contact Covid-19 alerts. The number of people receiving ‘pings’ from the NHS Covid-19 app telling them to self-isolate when someone they may have been in contact with has tested positive for Covid-19 has been increasing.
From August 16th fully vaccinated adults who come into close contact with a person with the virus will not be told to self-isolate. But some workers are still not fully vaccinated for a variety of reasons.
Employers should plan for all scenarios this summer, not only for the ‘pingdemic’, but also for post-holiday isolations, personal decisions to self-isolate and those employees who are still very Covid cautious.
What can Employers do during the Pingdemic?
- Keep clear communication channels open with all employees.
- Minimise all risks and maintain a Covid safe working environment. Even if it seems that life is getting back to normal remember a safe workplace is a happy and productive workplace.
- Review and if necessary update and review your employment policies.
- Consider if possible home working options if an employee is pinged – even if this is just for the duration of the isolation.
- Check your sickness policy, can you employee claim sick pay for self-isolating if home working is not an option?
- If it is a holiday isolation consider if this has to form part of the annual holiday entitlement as it may be reasonable to provide that any employee who travels abroad will need to use further annual leave during any period of quarantine on the basis that any such absence will otherwise be regarded as unauthorised. This may well have the effect of discouraging employees going on holiday abroad if they are required to use their annual leave for both the trip itself and the quarantine.
Advice from our Employment Law Solicitor
Susan Mayall, Head of Employment Law at Pearson Solicitors, said: “For over 18 months now employers have been navigating a series of changes, rules and regulations surrounding the pandemic, now as things are returning back to normal it can be a confusing time. I would urge anyone who has any questions to check with an employment law solicitor about what they can and cannot do, sometimes just a quick chat can put your mind at rest and let you get on with running your business.”
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.