Coronavirus: cases in the workplace

27 November 2021

Coronavirus cases in the workplace

Keeping people safe when they are at work is a priority for all employers. This page looks at what you should do if you have cases of Covid-19 within your workforce. 

On this page we answer:

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What do I do if an employee has coronavirus?

England

It is no longer a legal requirement for an individual to self-isolate if they have tested positive for or have symptoms of coronavirus.

Government guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including Covid-19 states that a person with symptoms of a respiratory infection such as Covid-19 and who has a high temperature or does not feel well enough to go to work or carry out their normal activities, should stay at home. They should avoid contact with other people until they no longer have a temperature or until they no longer feel unwell.

Where a person has a positive test result, they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others for 5 days after the day the test was taken.

At the end of this period, if they have a high temperature or feel unwell, they should continue to try to stay at home until they feel well enough to resume their normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature.

In both cases the guidance states try to work from home where possible. Where it is not possible, workers are encouraged to talk to their employers about what options may be available to them.

Now that free PCR and LFD tests have ended, there is no longer any recommendation to have a Covid-19 test in either case.

If an employee is unwell at work and displays symptoms of coronavirus, employers now have to make their own decision as to whether they should be sent home immediately or not.

Whether or not an employer chooses to mirror the government guidance, they will need to decide on what steps they will follow, if any, when an employee appears to have coronavirus.

Wales

It is no longer a legal requirement for an individual to self-isolate if they have tested positive for or have symptoms of Covid-19. The guidance from the Welsh Government for people with Covid-19 states a person should self-isolate for 5 full days if they have symptoms of or test positive for Covid-19.

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What should I do if there are any cases of coronavirus within the workplace?

If an employee or worker has been diagnosed as having coronavirus (Covid-19) and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work, it must be reported as a case of disease in accordance with Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). More information is available on the RIDDOR reporting of Covid-19 (hse.gov.uk) website.

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Do I need to close the workplace if there are any cases of coronavirus on site?

There is no obligation to automatically close the workplace where an employee has attended the workplace and is suspected or known to have coronavirus. There is no longer any need to report any outbreak to your local public health protection team.

Employers should follow the latest guidance for reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including Covid-19, in the workplace.

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Do I need to notify other workers that a colleague has tested positive?

There is no workplace guidance stating that employers should notify any close workplace contacts of the person who has tested positive.

Employers will need to make their own decisions about what procedures they will follow.

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