Employers urged to consider their approach to Test and Trace system
It is thought that the Government’s Coronavirus test and trace system may contribute to an increase in workplace disputes. In both Scotland and the wider UK, anyone who tests positive for the virus will be contacted by text, email or phone and asked to log on to the NHS test and trace website to provide their details, along with those of who they live with, places they’ve visited recently, and the names and contact details of people they have been in close contact with in the 48 hours before symptoms started, so that NHS contact tracers can track them down.
Under the scheme, those who have come into close contact with someone who tests positive will receive a phone call, text message or email telling them to stay at home for two weeks, even if they have no symptoms. The idea is to avoid national lockdowns, with more localised restrictions used instead. However, it is thought that there may be a potential rise in disputes where staff feel unable to stay away from their jobs to self-isolate. The TUC has called for the Government to bring forward a legal duty on employers not to penalise or discriminate against any workers required to self-isolate once or repeatedly by the test and trace system. The TUC warned that inadequate statutory sick pay – which currently stands at £95.85 per week – and fear of possible loss of income could stop people from acting on public health requests to self-isolate.
Businesses are advised to prepare for some level of disruption caused by the system’s introduction. Employers must be wary about refusing to accept employees’ confirmation that they have been tested and must self-isolate, or who are awaiting results or who may have been exposed to someone who is infected (traced).