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Coronavirus

According to The Office of National Statistics (ONS) an estimated 149.3 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in the UK in 2021. This is equivalent to 4.6 days per worker, which as you can imagine has a huge impact on businesses.

The pandemic continues but, in England, government restrictions are being dropped and most free services, such as testing, and testing and tracing, are being discontinued.  Responsibility is now focused on individuals.  That was the gist of the prime minister’s announcement’s on Covid measures yesterday. 

The Prime Minister announced yesterday that plan B restrictions are to be lifted in England. From today, the government is no longer requiring people to work from home if they can. Employers should start speaking to their staff about arrangements for returning to workplaces, whilst continuing to follow the Working Safely guidance.

The government is reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS).  This will be a temporary scheme to support employers facing heightened levels of sickness absence due to COVID-19 and will refund SME employers’ COVID-related SSP costs for up to two weeks per employee.  SMEs are defined here as firms with fewer than 250 employees.

The government has asked that we highlight the new, temporary, self-certification period for sickness, increased from seven to 28 days.  Employers cannot ask employees for proof of sickness until they have been off for 28 days or more, effective from December 10th 2021.  The 28-day rule expires on January 26th 2022, when the period reverts back to seven days.

On Sunday 12th December 2021, the UK Government confirmed that, with effect from Tuesday 14th December 2021, fully vaccinated people in England who are close contact of COVID-19 cases will be told to take daily lateral flow tests for seven days rather than self-isolate. This is in addition to the other measures announced by the Prime Minister on th December 2021.

The government has changed its guidance to businesses in England related to coronavirus, following a surge in cases with the Omicron variant.

The main recent change to requirements is that “contacts of individuals with a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant, must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status”. 

With winter weather making workers reluctant to keep windows and doors open, it is even more important to ensure your workplace is adequately ventilated. Good ventilation helps reduce the risk from aerosol transmission and prevents the spread of COVID-19.

Travel

The Government is also bringing in measures to prevent new cases from abroad.

Business psychologist, Alan Bradshaw, looks at what managers need to know and do to manage risks to mental wellbeing in a post-Covid workplace.

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