How can we help?


New fines and criminal records for self-isolating workers and their employers if they attend workplace

Employers will now commit a criminal offence and face fines if they knowingly permit a worker to attend the workplace after they have been told to self-isolate.

Workers who fail to tell their employer they are required to self-isolate will also commit a criminal offence and face fines. So far these new regulations only apply to England and they came into force at midnight on Sunday 28 September Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020.

This requirement to self-isolate applies to anybody who has:

  • Been notified that they have tested positive for COVID-19 or lives with someone who has tested positive;
  • Has been advised by a local authority or public health official they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive; and
  • Fines (so far) will not apply to anybody who fails to self-isolate after they have been informed via the new NHS COVID-19 smartphone app that they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

Workers must notify their employer that they have been told to self-isolate before they next attend the workplace and give their employer the self-isolation start and end dates (Regulation 8). The rules also apply to agency workers who must tell either their employer, their employment agency or their principle. Whoever is informed by the agency worker must pass the information onto the other two parties.

These new Regulations also place a responsibility on employers to prevent workers whom they know must self-isolate from working (unless they can work from home). Many workers will only be entitled to statutory sick pay whilst self-isolating which may encourage some not to tell their employer they have tested positive or received a formal notification. At the time of writing it is not yet clear what measures authorities will be taking, if any, to inform employers of their workers’ positive results.

Workers who fail to tell their employer they are required to self-isolate will also commit a criminal offence and face fines.

As Regulation 7 places criminal liability on employers who ‘knowingly’ allow self-isolating workers to come to work we recommend that businesses take the following steps:

  • Notify in writing all workers that they must inform their line manager and/or HR that they are required to self-isolate and the dates of their self-isolation period. A failure to inform will be considered a disciplinary offence as well as a criminal one.
  • Keep a careful record of the worker’s reported self- isolation records and dates they attend the workplace.
  • Fixed penalty fines for both employers and individuals for breaches of Regulation 7 and Regulation 8 respectively will start at £1,000 for the first fixed fee; £2,000 for the second;  £4,000 for the third and £10,000 for all subsequent breaches.

If you require further advice on any of these issues or a new or updated coronavirus (COVID-19) policy please contact us.

About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

  • 19 June 2024
  • Employment

Are your employee benefits attracting and retaining top talent

The country’s economic outlook continues to improve, but many companies and employees are still under pressure due to high inflation and the resulting cost of living crisis.

  • 18 June 2024
  • Employment

Clarkslegal representing UK employers on the global stage

I recently returned from the 112th Session of the International Labour Organisation’s International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, which I had the privilege of attending with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), in order to represent UK employers on this global stage.

  • 17 June 2024
  • Employment

Pride Month

June has been a month of dreary wet weather.  Luckily, the vibrant colours and messages of acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community have been something to celebrate, despite the weather!

  • 12 June 2024
  • Privacy and Data Protection

UK data protection: Important basics

Sometimes, data protection can seem like unhelpful red tape. At other times, it is critical to cultivating a trustworthy reputation.

  • 11 June 2024
  • Immigration

UK Immigration Roundup – May to June 2024

As the UK approaches the upcoming general election, immigration remains a focal issue in political discussions. The Conservative party’s recent proposal to cap visas for skilled migrant workers has alarmed various industries who are concerned that a limit to migration could harm vital sectors of the UK economy.

  • 06 June 2024
  • Employment

Talking Employment Law: What does the new Worker Protection Act 2023 mean for employers?

In this podcast, Lucy Densham Brown and Shauna Jones, members of the employment team, will review the new Worker Protection Act 2023 and provide some guidance on how employers should review their policies in preparation for October.