Self-isolating (staying at home) is no longer a legal requirement. But if someone has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive, they should follow the government guidance for England, Scotland or Wales.
Employers should review the government guidance, talk with their staff and any recognised trade union to decide what staff should do. It's good practice to agree a policy with staff on self-isolation so everyone understands the process to follow.
1. Self-isolation in England
In England, if someone has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive, they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
When making a decision about self-isolating, an employer should take into account keeping the workplace safe for everyone and any concerns from staff.
Find out more about:
- government guidance for people with COVID-19 symptoms in England on GOV.UK
- if staff are worried about going to the workplace
Self-isolation in Scotland and Wales
In Scotland and Wales, if someone has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive, they should stay at home.
Employers should support staff to isolate if they need to.
If someone at work has COVID-19
If someone at work has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive, they should follow the government guidance for England, Scotland or Wales and any policy at work.
Employers have legal obligations for the health, safety and wellbeing of people at work so should consider how to support their staff to follow this guidance.
Supporting staff to self-isolate
If an employee or worker self-isolates, the employer should:
- support them while they're at home, including their wellbeing and mental health
- consider making changes to the workplace to stop further spread of COVID-19
If an employee or worker is not able to work because they're ill with COVID-19, they must get any sick pay they're entitled to.
Someone might have to self-isolate more than once because of COVID-19. Employers should support them each time.
Support payments for self-isolation
In Scotland, if someone has been told to self-isolate they could be entitled to a support payment.
In Wales, support payments ended on 30 June 2022. If someone was told to self-isolate in Wales before 30 June 2022 they had until 21 July 2022 to claim for a support payment.
In England, support payments ended on 24 February 2022. If someone was told to self-isolate in England before 24 February 2022, they had until 6 April 2022 to claim for a support payment.
For more guidance, see:
- England – Test and Trace Support Payment on GOV.UK
- Scotland – Self-Isolation Support 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 or are not well enough to work.
Check your organisation's absence policy to see what it says about proving sickness absence.
Employers might need to be flexible if asking for proof. For example, if someone is very ill, they might not be able to get proof straight away.
If someone is off work due to COVID-19 and their employer asks for proof, 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
Self-isolation or quarantine after travel
If someone has travelled from outside the UK, they will need to check the travel rules for England, Scotland or Wales, depending on where they're entering the UK.