New package to support and enforce self-isolation

5th October 2020 Employment

From 28th September 2020, those who are asked to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service are required to do so by law. Those on lower incomes required to isolate will be supported by a payment of £500. The initiative recognises that self-isolation is one of the most powerful tools for controlling the transmission of COVID-19.

Who is eligible?  

  • An individual must have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace either because they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, or because they have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive;
  • They must be employed or self-employed;
  • They are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating; and
  • Be in receipt of one of the following: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.

In light of the above criteria, just under 4 million people in the UK will be eligible for the payment. It will ensure that those on low incomes are able to self-isolate without concerns that their finances will be negatively impacted.

Does the payment apply to agency workers? The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has confirmed that where agency workers or those on zero hours contracts meet the eligibility criteria, then they will also qualify for the payment.

Who will be responsible for the payments? The scheme will be administered by Local Authorities and each authority is expected to have their scheme in place by 12th October 2020.

When can you claim a payment? Those who are required to self-isolate from the 28th September will be able to make a claim. Where the schemes have not been set up by this date there will be an option to claim a backdated payment once the scheme is up and running.

What are the penalties for failing to isolate? The fines for breaching self-isolation have recently been raised and will now start at £1,000 but could increase up to £10,000 in serious cases such as repeat offenders or a business owner who does not allow staff members to self-isolate. 

The Prime Minister said of the scheme: “While most people are doing their absolute level best to comply with the rules, I don’t want to see a situation where people don’t feel they are financially able to self-isolate.”

If you need advice or have any queries about dealing with workplace issues arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact Paul Chamberlain or another member of the employment team at JMW Solicitors LLP on 0345 646 0342.

This note is for general guidance only and should not be used for any other purpose. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as legal advice.​​​​​​

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Grace O'Driscoll is a Trainee Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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Paul Chamberlain is a Partner and Head of Department located in Manchesterin our Employment department

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