This page was updated on 3 March 2021.
As an employer, we understand that the health, safety and wellbeing of your workforce is your top priority.
Summary of the latest guidance
We recommend that you stay informed by reading the latest information from the following sources.
- National restrictions are in place in England. Visit our quick-read guide to view the business and venue restrictions.
- Government guidance states that people should work from home unless they cannot reasonably do so. In sectors where people cannot work from home - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their COVID-secure workplace. For tips and tools on agile working, access our Guide to Remote Working here.
- Ensure that you follow NHS advice if you or any of your employees suspect you may have Coronavirus. Businesses can face fines if they do not enable staff to self-isolate if they have to.
As FCO travel advice remains under constant review, it is recommended that you refer to the latest guidance available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.
Currently, you can only travel internationally where you have a legally permitted reason to leave home.
All international arrivals to England, including UK nationals returning home, are required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure (exemptions apply) as well as complete a passenger locator form.
To protect the UK from variant strains entry from certain countries has been banned. The list of countries with a travel ban to the UK is available on the government website. British and Irish Nationals or third-country nationals with residence rights in the UK who have visited or passed through one of the countries on the list will be able to enter the UK. However, from 15 February they will be required to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days and take 2 COVID-19 tests during their quarantine. The quarantine package including accommodation, food and drinks, transport and testing will cost £1,750.
Note: You can only arrive in England at certain ports of entry when travelling from a country on the "red list".
Full guidance for passengers including links to the online portal to book quarantine hotels and the mandated tests is available on the government website, here.
Passengers arriving in England from a country that is not on the "red list" will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days. They will also be required to book 2 COVID-19 tests before they arrive to be taken during their quarantine on day 2 and day 8. This will cost £210 and if one of these tests is positive, they will be required to quarantine for another 10 days from the day after the test date.
Full guidance on how to quarantine when you arrive in England including links to the online portal to book the mandated tests is available on the government website, here.Certain jobs qualify for travel exemptions and the list of these is available on the government website.
Under home quarantine, passengers will continue to have the option to use the Test to Release scheme after 5 days of self-isolation, but they will still be required to take the tests on Day 2 and Day 8.
Failure to comply with the new measures will lead to heavy financial penalties and in some cases, individuals could even face prosecution and up to 10 years in prison.
If air travel is required for your staff you must adhere to the UK Government's safety guidance for passengers which can be seen here.
Preventing the spread of Coronavirus
Guidance for workplace settings
From January 5, England is in lockdown.
The full list of businesses required to remain closed is available through the government website. Businesses allowed to remain open should follow the government's COVID-secure guidance to ensure the health and safety of their staff.
Maintaining social distancing
Workplaces permitted to remain open must make adjustments to maintain social distancing of 2m, or at least 1m where this is not possible.
Download a pack of signage to help communicate this with your teams here.
From 28 September, people are required by law to self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19, or instructions by the NHS Test and Trace service if they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has had a positive test result.
Failure to comply with the regulations will lead to fines for those breaking mandated quarantine and those preventing others from self-isolating. This could include businesses pressuring self-isolating staff to return to work.
From 24 July, face coverings are mandatory in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, banks, building societies, post offices and enclosed transport hubs. Face coverings are also required in cafes or take-away restaurants that do not provide table service, other than in designated seating areas. From August 8, face coverings are required in museums, cinemas, galleries and places of worship. These are also required from 15 August in: casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas, exhibition halls and conference centres.
From 24 September, customers in private hire vehicles and taxis are also required to wear face coverings.
For more information on when to wear a face covering, visit the government website.
Exemptions include children under the age of 11, anyone with a disability or condition which means they are unable to wear one, transport staff and emergency services.
Visit our guide to view the latest travel advice for businesses and employers during the pandemic.
Note: From the 15th June, face coverings are mandatory while using public transport in England.
What if a team member suspects they have Coronavirus?
To support employers manage the emergence of COVID-19 cases in the workplace, we have developed a quick guide which can be viewed here.
If there has been a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in your business facility, refer to this guidance on decontamination. Read more here.
ACAS have also released guidance for employers who want to understand their legal position around sick leave and pay entitlements if someone has or is suspected of having coronavirus.
What to do if you have closed due to Coronavirus?
- If you have been forced to close or are experiencing reduced demand you can access financial support via the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
- In addition, if your business has been required to close due to national or local restrictions you may be eligible to receive COVID-19 business support grants
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
The Government have previously announced that SSP is to be paid from day one of sick leave for people in self-isolation. In the Budget on 11 March it was announced that firms with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for up to 14 days of SSP paid to staff that are self-isolating.
To check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus, see the relevant government guidance here.
Employers must maintain records of staff absence, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If the employer requires evidence, an isolation note can be obtained from NHS 111 online. For those employees who are instructed to shield because they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, a ‘shielding note’ or a letter can be obtained from their doctor or health authority.
The rebate scheme which was launched on the 26th May can be accessed here.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
Self-employed workers that are not eligible for SSP and need to self-isolate can claim ESA from the first day, rather than after seven days.
For more information on accessing Social Welfare Benefits, see here.
Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
The scheme provides critical support to the self-employed. On 3 March, the Chancellor announced that there would be a fifth and final grant to cover the period May 2021 - September 2021.
More details on the scheme can be seen here.
Test and Trace Support Payment scheme - The scheme has been extended till summer.
Employees who are notified to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and who are on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income, as a result, may be eligible for a payment of £500 from their local authority under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
More details on the scheme are available through the government website.
Practicalities of operating in a changing work environment
Skeleton Team on site – there may be practicalities to consider with this such as ensuring you have adequate cover, ensuring key holders are fully trained and equipped to cover these responsibilities
Lone Working – employees working alone onsite is a key risk, if you do not have a lone working policy in place you can refer to this guidance from the Health and Safety Executive
Remote Working – Remote working requires you to have the correct systems in place. To help your business adapt view our Guide to Remote Working
Staff skillset – Be prepared to cover all the skills that you need to keep the business going. Additional resources to help you support and empower your workforce to ensure business continuity can be seen here.
ACAS have released redundancy guidance for employers and employees, which can be accessed here. The Growth Company has also developed a "Redundancy during COVID-19" Guide to support businesses and staff.
For more information get in touch with us here.
The information provided is meant as a general guide only rather than advice or assurance. GC Business Growth Hub does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and professional guidance should be sought on all aspects of business planning and responses to the coronavirus. Use of this guide and toolkit are entirely at the risk of the user. Any hyperlinks from this document are to external resources not connected to the GC Business Growth Hub and The Growth Company is not responsible for the content within any hyperlinked site.