Legal Issues – Self-Isolation exemption announced

A new scheme has been launched by the Scottish Government which will remove the need for employees in certain sectors to self-isolate. Under current rules a person who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID 19 must isolate for ten days.

Staff working in health, food, emergency services, government, finance and transport sectors can apply for an exemption under the scheme via the Scottish Government website. The government has stated that the exceptions are limited and will be treated on an individual basis.

The business must be able to demonstrate that they fall in one of the sectors covered by the scheme. They must also be able to show that self- isolation of staff members is negatively affecting the essential functioning of the business. They will also have to describe what will happen if no action is taken. Additionally, the application will have to include specifics regarding how many staff they want the exemption to apply to and in what location.

There are strict conditions to this scheme. Firstly, staff must voluntarily agree not to self-isolate and this is not something an employer can compel an employee to do. Secondly, the employee must have had both doses of the vaccine. Thirdly, they will need to have had a negative PCR test as well as agree to take lateral flow tests every day.

It is hoped that this scheme will ease the pressure on businesses in certain industries following reports of food shortages in supermarkets. It is important to note for employers that the scheme in England is different to the scheme in Scotland. Furthermore, since the scheme was only announced last week (23rd July), we can expect to see some developments in the near future.

If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.

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