Guide NHS Test and Trace

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3. Workplace guidance

The Government has issued guidance on the NHS test and trace service for employers, businesses and workers. Full guidance can be found on their website.

Guidance for employers

Employers are advised to:

  • make their workplaces as safe as possible
  • encourage workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and supporting them when in isolation

The NHS test and trace service is designed to support businesses and economic recovery by:

  • providing testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus, so that if they have been tested positive, they and their household member know to continue to self-isolate

  • helping to stop the onward spread of the virus in the workplace and wider society, so that fewer people develop coronavirus and have to self-isolate

  • enabling the government to go further in safely easing or lifting lockdown measures, as far as it is deemed safe to do so, thereby allowing the nation to return to normal as quickly as possible

To facilitate the NHS test and trace service, employers should encourage workers to heed any notifications to self-isolate and provide support to these individuals when in isolation.

It is important the employers continue to protect the health and safety both of their workers and of other people who may be affected by their business, for example agency workers, contractors, volunteers, customers, suppliers and other visitors.

To help employers, guidance has been developed on the 5 steps for working safely, along with sector-specific guidance.

Workplace risk

COVID-19 is a new risk that must be incorporated into workplace risk assessments. Employers must therefore carry out a new COVID-19 risk assessment if they have not already done so.

If multiple cases of coronavirus appear in a workplace, an outbreak control team from either the local authority or Public Health England will, if necessary, be assigned to help the employer manage the outbreak.

Guidance for self-employed people

If you are self-employed, you must continue to work from home if you can. 

If your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, you may be eligible for a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. 

More information on this scheme and other support available if you are not eligible is on GOV.UK.

Contact tracing: contact with co-workers

When someone first develops symptoms and orders a test, they will be encouraged to alert the people that they have had close contact with in the 48 hours before symptom onset.

If any of those close contacts are co-workers, the person who has developed symptoms may wish to (but is not obliged to) ask their employer to alert those co-workers. At this stage, those close contacts should not self-isolate, but they:

  • must avoid individuals who are at high-risk of contracting COVID-19, for example, because they have pre-existing medical conditions, such as respiratory issues
  • must take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene and in watching out for symptoms
  • will be better prepared if the person who has symptoms has a positive test result and if they (the contact) receive a notification from the NHS test and trace service explaining they need to self-isolate

If the person who has symptoms has a positive test result for COVID-19, the NHS test and trace service will ask them to share information about their close recent contacts.

If they work in – or have recently visited or attended – one of the following settings, the contact tracing process will be escalated to local public health experts, who will liaise as necessary with the manager of the relevant setting:

    • a health or care setting, for instance a hospital or care home
    • a prison or other secure establishment
    • a school for children with special needs
    • any setting where there is a risk of a local outbreak

Guidance for workers

The GOV.UK website provides information on:

  • Self-isolation
  • Sources of financial help