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Document updated/added on 02.10.2020

Topic: Sickness absence

Notification of self-isolation memo
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Notification of self-isolation memo

Notification of self-isolation memo

You can be fined £1,000, rising to £10,000, if you knowingly allow a worker who’s legally required to self-isolate to come to work. Our memo advises your staff of their duty to tell you if they’re required to self-isolate and makes clear that they mustn’t come to work.

Legal duty

If an individual develops coronavirus symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and then arrange to take a coronavirus test in accordance with existing guidance. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 now impose a legal obligation on individuals in England to self-isolate, normally at their home, for designated periods where they’ve been officially notified that they, or someone in their household or with whom they’ve had close contact, have then tested positive for coronavirus. A breach of these rules is a criminal offence and can lead to a £1,000 fine, rising to £10,000 for repeat offences and serious breaches. There’s no legal obligation to self-isolate if the individual is notified through the NHS Covid-19 smartphone app that they’ve had close contact with someone who’s tested positive.

Employer obligation

Importantly, you commit an offence, punishable by the same level of fine, if you’re aware of a worker’s (or agency worker’s) requirement to self-isolate and, without reasonable excuse, you knowingly allow them to attend their workplace or any other place for employment-related purposes (other than their place of isolation). The rules don’t prevent a worker working from home if they’re able to do so and that’s their place of isolation, but they do mean that if you know a worker has tested positive, or is a close contact of someone who’s tested positive, you’re responsible for stopping them from attending work. To support this provision, where a worker is due to work for you during their isolation period other than at their place of isolation, they must notify you of the requirement on them to self-isolate, plus the start and end dates of their isolation period. This notification can be given in any format, but it must be provided as soon as reasonably practicable and, in any event, before the worker is next due to start work within their isolation period. Failure to notify you is also a criminal offence, but with a smaller £50 fine. In the case of agency workers, the recipient of the notification must then inform others in the agency chain.


Most workers won’t be aware of the potential to commit an additional offence if they don’t inform you of the requirement on them to self-isolate. Our Notification of Self-Isolation Memo brings the self-isolation rules to their attention, whilst at the same time ensuring that you’re being crystal clear about the fact that self-isolating workers must not come to work, and they could be disciplined if they do so.

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