The NHS test and trace system forms a central part of the government’s Coronavirus recovery strategy. This guidance explains how employers and businesses can play their part in the NHS test and trace system. This guidance is only for England.
This service will play a vital role in the return to normal life in the safest way possible, as well as providing an early warning on if the COVID-19 acitivity is increasing locally, regionally or nationally. This then will inform the government on how to approach stopping the spread of the virus.
By following the guidance employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for Coronavirus.
The test and trace service will provide testing for anyone who has symptoms, will get in touch with anyone who has had a positive test to help them share information about any close recent contact they’ve had and will alert those contacts, where necessary, notifying them they will need to self-isolate.
It is vital that employers play their part in the test and trace system by:
- making workplaces as safe as possible
- encouraging staff to heed any notifications to self-isolate and supporting them when in isolation
The NHS test and trace service is designed to support businesses and economic recovery by providing tests for anyone with symptoms, so that if they test positive they an their household know to continue to self-isolate, helping to stop the spread of the virus and enabling the government to go further in safely easing or lifting lockdown measures.
It is important the employers continue to protect the health and safety of both staff and anyone else who may be affected by their business e.g. customers.
Employers must contiue to follow health and safety guidance in the workplace including:
- enabling working from home if possible
- identifying sensible measures to control risks in the workplace if working from home is not an option
- keeping the workplace clean, maintaining social distancing, preventing transmission of the virus through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces
Employers must now incorporate COVID-19 into the workplace risk assessment if they have not already done so.
The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance to help you conduct a risk assessment.
The NHS test and trace service supplements the risk mitigation measures taken by employers by identifying people who have had recent contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus and advising them to self isolate.
If in the workplace multiple cases of the Coronavirus appear, an outbreak control team from either the local authority or Public Health England will be assigned to help the employer manage with the outbreak.
Employers should support any employees who ar required to self-isolate, they must not ask them to still attend work.
Staff may be told to isolate for the following reasons:
- have symptoms
- tested positive for the virus
- live in the same household as someone with symptoms or has tested positive of the virus
- have been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive, received notification to self-isolate through the NHS test and trace service.
If unable to work from home when self-isolating, employees should receive sick pay (SSP) and give them options to use their paid leave if they prefer.
If your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, you may be eligible for a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. More information on this scheme, and other support available if you are not eligible, is on GOV.UK.
The NHS COVID-19 app will form one component of the NHS test and trace service, helping to speed up contact tracing and to reach people who cannot be reached through traditional forms of contact tracing, such as someone you don’t know but have sat next to on public transport.
The app is currently bring trialled before a national roll-out.
For further information on the app please check the NHS COVID-19 App website
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