Although Covid-19 has not dominated (or, dare I say, featured in) the headlines for a while, it is still a threat to people’s health and wellbeing. Consequently, ACAS has updated its guidelines for employers and employees.
These now cover:
- What to do if an employee gets Covid-19 and self-isolation. Self-isolating is no longer a legal requirement. Consequently, when staff members learn or suspect that they have Covid-19, ACAS recommends that they inform their employer, follow any relevant workplace policies and the current public health advice in England, Scotland and Wales. Additionally, as there is no legally required length of time someone with Covid-19 should stay off work, ACAS suggests that employers simply follow any relevant government guidelines.
- Keeping everyone safe at work. Again, ACAS suggests that employers and employees follow government guidelines. ACAS also reminds employers that they have a duty of care towards their employees and anyone who visits their workplace. Consequently, an employer must: do all they reasonably can to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone at work (such as providing adequate ventilation); complete a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to prevent harm; consider Covid-19 and how to protect employees who are at high risk as part of their general health and safety risk assessment; and consult staff, and any trade union or employee representatives, on any decisions that involve health and safety.
ACAS has also reviewed its guidance for employees and employers on long-covid, including:
- Sickness absence because of long-covid. ACAS suggests that employers do the following in order to support staff members who are off sick with long-covid: agree how and when to make contact during any absence; make sure their work is covered and shared out appropriately while they are off; and talk about ways to support them as they return to work, where and when possible. When an employee is not able to do their work or they are taking a lot of time off, an employer should see what they can do anything to help (such as referring them to occupational health). Employers should make sure that they have done everything they can before considering a capability procedure.
- Whether long-covid is treated as a disability. ACAS does not provide a clear answer to the question. Instead, it suggests that employers focus on what adjustments they can make to assist employees suffering from long-covid, as opposed to trying to work out whether the condition is a disability.