When someone must stay at home
Someone must stay at home ('self-isolate') if:
- they have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have tested positive
- they are told to self-isolate by an NHS test and trace service
- someone in their household has symptoms or has tested positive
They could get fined for breaking the law if they do not follow self-isolation rules.
If someone cannot work because they have to self-isolate, they must tell their employer as soon as possible.
Follow self-isolation rules
If someone needs to self-isolate, they must stay at home for at least 10 days.
Follow government guidelines for self-isolating:
- England – stay at home guidance on GOV.UK
- Scotland – Scottish Government Test and Protect self-isolation guidance
- Wales – Welsh Government self-isolation guidance
If someone in the same household has COVID-19
If someone in their household has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, the employee or worker must stay at home. They must do this for at least 10 days from the day the other person first had symptoms or tested positive.
If the employee or worker also gets symptoms while self-isolating, they should get tested. If their test result is positive, they must start a further full 10-day self-isolation period from when they started to get symptoms.
Support staff to self-isolate
If an employee or worker needs to self-isolate, the employer should:
- send them home immediately, if they're at work
- support them while they’re at home, including their wellbeing and mental health
- consider making changes to the workplace to stop further spread
If an employee or worker is not able to work because they're ill with COVID-19 or cannot work from home while self-isolating, they must get any sick pay they're entitled to.
Someone might have to self-isolate more than once during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers should support them in the same way each time.
If someone is contacted by an NHS test and trace service
Someone must self-isolate if an NHS test and trace service tells them to because they've been in close contact with someone who's tested positive.
See more guidance on NHS test and trace services:
- England – NHS Test and Trace on GOV.UK
- Scotland – Test and Protect from the Scottish Government
- Wales – Test, trace, protect from the Welsh Government
Support payments for self-isolation
If someone has been told to self-isolate, they could be entitled to a £500 support payment.
The eligibility for the payment is different if you live in England, Scotland or Wales. For more guidance, see:
- England – Test and Trace Support Payment on GOV.UK
- Scotland – self-isolation grant from the Scottish Government
- Wales – self-isolation support scheme from the Welsh Government
Isolation notes – if the employer needs proof
The usual sickness absence process applies for staff who need to self-isolate and cannot work from home.
Check your organisation's absence policy to see what it says about proving sickness absence.
If someone is off work for more than 7 days in a row, they can get an isolation note from the:
- NHS website – for anyone in England, Scotland and Wales
- NHS App – for those registered with a GP in England
If someone is off work for 7 days or less, they can 'self-certify'. This means they do not need to give their employer a fit note or other proof of sickness.
Employers might need to be flexible if asking for isolation notes. For example, if someone is very ill, they might not be able to get a note straight away.
Self-isolation or quarantine after travel
If someone has travelled from outside of the UK, they must follow quarantine or self-isolation rules. This means they must not go to the workplace.