COVID-19: NHS Test and Trace in workplace guidance updated for 16 August 2021 self-isolation changes (England)

On 16 August 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care guidance, NHS Test and Trace in the workplace (applicable in England), was updated to reflect the changes to the self-isolation rules.

From 16 August, the self-isolation exemption rules for critical services workers no longer apply and have been removed from the guidance. The updated guidance provides that individuals informed by NHS Test and Trace that they are a contact of someone who has tested positive will not need to self-isolate where they are:

• Fully vaccinated.
• Below the age of 18 and six months.
• Have taken part in, or are currently taking part in, an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial.
• Not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Individuals informed that they are a contact of a positive case are still advised to get tested and consider taking precautions for ten days, including limiting close contact with the clinically extremely vulnerable and people outside of their household, especially in enclosed spaces, wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, and taking part in regular lateral flow testing.

Individuals who show any symptoms of COVID-19 should still self-isolate and get tested regardless of vaccination or exemption status. Employers are not expected to check whether an employee is exempt from self-isolation.

Workers who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and are due to work somewhere other than their place of self-isolation have a legal duty to inform their employer as soon as possible before attending work. Failure to do so could result in a £50 fine.

However, workers who are exempt from self-isolation do not need to inform their employer when they have been advised that they are a contact of a positive case. Nor will workers who have received a notification from the NHS COVID-19 app. Employers who are notified by an employee are strongly encouraged to support them to self-isolate.