Test and Protect Scheme and Continuation to Statutory Sick Pay

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The ‘Test and Protect’ scheme, Scotland’s tactic to implementing the Covid-19 ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ tactic went live on Thursday 28 May 2020.

A link to the Scottish Government advice document for employers can be accessed here:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-test-and-protect-advice-for-employers/

What the Test and Protect Scheme Means?

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should take immediate steps to be tested and do not leave their home for any other reason.

They and their household should then self-isolate until the results of the test are known.

Until they have been tested and told if it is safe to leave home, employers should make sure that staff do not come in to work.

If tested positive, the person will need to self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days. They will also need to provide details to NHS contact tracers of everyone with whom they have had close contact or the NHS will contact them ASAP if they have not already done so.

This will help the NHS for the next phases and to identify where the infection is coming from, so society and the economy can avoid a reappearance to lockdown and adapt to a new normal.

What do we mean by ‘close contact’?

  • People within their household.
  • People with whom they have been within two metres of for a period of 15 minutes or longer.
  • People with whom they have had face-to-face contact.

These people will then be contacted by NHS contact tracers and will need to immediately self-isolate at home for 14 days, generally from the date the last contact occurred.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Staff who have tested positive to the virus are entitled to SSP. The entitlement is from day 1 of absence. That was already the case based on former adjustments to SSP legislation.

People who were already eligible to SSP are:

  • Individuals who have symptoms (though they now need to take immediate steps to be tested),
  • Individuals who are living with someone who has tested positive (or who has suspected symptoms).
  • Individuals who are shielding as they are extremely vulnerable.

The supplement is that from Thursday 28 May 2020 entitlement to SSP is now continued to those staff members who have been told by NHS contact tracers to isolate under the new test and protect scheme.

This means a staff member who has been informed that they have had contact with a person with Covid-19, and who is self-isolating for 14 days as a result, will now be entitled to statutory sick pay. The entitlement is from day 1 of absence.

Staff who are self-isolating can request an isolation letter through NHS Inform.

The Government’s Test and Protect advice has to remind employers: –

  • Self-isolation may be required on more than one instance.
  • Anyone who has symptoms must self-isolate immediately and use NHS Inform or call 0800 028 2816 to arrange a test.
  • Close contacts of someone who has tested positive, as recognised by an NHS contact tracer, will have to self-isolate for 14 days. This could mean colleagues of a staff member with symptoms may have been close contacts, and may be asked by the NHS to self-isolate if that staff member does test positive.
  • NHS contact tracers may require someone to self-isolate even if they have previously tested positive for coronavirus and have recovered.

All of this brings additional requirements for employers to consider as Scotland and the rest of the UK move into their easing of lockdown measures.

This update only contains general information this does not constitute legal or other professional advice.

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