How to address Covid-19 questions in the workplace

covid work place

Many business owners and managers are dealing with new and unfamiliar conversations in the workplace surrounding Covid-19. We’ve put together a helpful blog which covers conversations with staff about the vaccinations and other FAQs.

How can I discuss vaccinations with my staff?

There is presently no legislation that requires people to take the vaccination, even if an employer would prefer that they do. Employers may find it beneficial to discuss the vaccination with their employees and highlight the benefits of becoming vaccinated. However, employers must bear in mind that some individuals may be exempt from receiving the vaccination for health reasons.

It may be beneficial to address topics such as:

• The most recent vaccination health information from the government
• When employees may be provided with the vaccination
• If employees will need to take time off work to be vaccinated
• What happens if an employee needs to take time off work after having the vaccination
• If the employer intends to collect data on employee vaccinations, and if yes, how this will be done in accordance with data protection legislation (UK GDPR)
• If someone must get vaccinated as a requirement to carry out their role

Employers may want to consider the following if they wish to encourage their employees to obtain the vaccine:

• Paid time off for vaccine appointments
• Instead of Statutory Sick Pay, pay employees their regular rate of pay if they are absent due to vaccination adverse effects
• Vaccine-related absences should not be counted in absence records or in any ‘trigger’ system that the organisation may have

What happens if a staff member tests positive for Covid-19?

If any employees display symptoms of Covid-19 they should self-isolate and arrange a PCR test.
Employers are advised to call the self-isolation Service Hub on 020 3743 6715 as soon as they are made aware that any of their workers have tested positive.

In the event of an outbreak, employers should follow their established outbreak processes and seek advice from their local health protection team as appropriate.

The guidance has recently changed for self-isolation for individuals who are fully vaccinated. This has been reduced to 7 days subject to having two negative LFD tests taken 24 hours apart and not before the 6th day.

Who is classed as a close contact to a worker testing positive?
• Face to face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
• Been within one metre for one minute of longer without face-to-face contact
• Been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact or built up for one day)

Does a close contact worker have to self-isolate?

Not necessarily no. Individuals are not required to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone testing positive for Covid if any of the following apply:
• They are fully vaccinated
• They are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
• They have taken part in or are currently part of an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial
• They are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

It is strongly advised that they take a daily LFT test for 7 days after they are notified of the contact. It is also recommended for the individual to either work from home or reduce contact with others where possible.

What happens if a staff member isn’t comfortable coming in when someone has tested positive?

In this instance you could suggest the staff member works from home until they have undertaken a lateral flow and PCR test with a negative result.

If an employee has been told that they legally have to self-isolate, you must pay them Company Sick Pay if applicable, or Statutory Sick Pay if not, subject to meeting the necessary criteria.

There is no government support or advice in place for employees that are not legally required to self-isolate and cannot work from home. We are here to discuss these instances with you on a case by case basis.

At Spire HR we can help with advice, support, payroll, and much more – we do this on a flexible retainer basis or a Pay as you go option. If you have any questions or need advice about anything that is mentioned in the blog, then we are here to help!

Simply email info@spirehr.co.uk and we will be in touch!