Posted: 30/07/2021

Expert legal advice on Test and Trace self-isolation for independent retailers


Jo Joyce, health & safety specialist at law firm Taylor Wessing, sets out the legal position on COVID isolation.

Q: When do food shop workers have to self-isolate? “The basic legal position is that you have to self-isolate if you get a positive test result or you are told to by a designated professional such as someone from a GP surgery or NHS Test and Trace. 

“Being pinged on the app is not a legal requirement, it is a recommendation. But it gets more complicated as employers must ensure they are running a safe workspace and keeping customers safe.”

Q: What are the legal risks if someone works after an isolation alert on the NHS app?

“My advice is don’t force anyone who has been pinged to come to work as you are setting yourself up for a constructive dismissal claim. If someone is happy to come in then you might require them to have a negative PCR test first but that is still high risk.

“It is possible that a staff member or customer could attempt to bring a legal claim and, whether it succeeds or not, having to defend it and deal with the publicity could be damaging.”

Q: What support do I get if my staff are isolating?

“You don’t have to pay an employee who is isolating and isn’t ill. Those employees on low incomes can apply for a £500 support payment from the government. There is no direct payment from central government for businesses forced to close because staff are isolating.”


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