Test and Trace: Employer’s Obligations


Today, 28 May 2020, the Test and Trace scheme commenced. Under the scheme, people will be contacted by “contact tracers” and told to self-isolate, where they have come into contact with a person who tests positive.

What does Test and Trace mean?

Broadly the rules have not changed; anyone who develops symptoms have to isolate for seven days, with the rest of the household isolating for fourteen days. Anyone with those symptoms can ask for a test online or phone to arrange a test.

The new process thereafter is that if a test comes back negative, the household can go back to normal.

If the test comes back positive, tracers will contact who test positive with coronavirus and ask who they have had close contact with and places they have been. Any of those contacts deemed at risk of infection will be contacted by text, phone or email, and told to isolate for 14 days, even if they are not sick. Those persons will be tested only if they develop symptoms. The rest of their household does not have to isolate, unless someone becomes ill.

Close contact, under contact tracing, is spending more than 15 minutes or more at a distance of less than 2m with people, or those that someone has direct contact with including household members. The contact must have taken place between two days before and up to seven days after symptoms appeared.

Some people may have to isolate on more than one occasion, where told to do so.


What happens if employees are told to isolate?

When instructed by contact tracers to isolate, or where employees have symptoms, they should be allowed to isolate at home as soon as possible. This means that, in some cases, employees should be instructed or encouraged to return home to commence self isolation, to reduce possible infection of the rest of the workforce.

Employees who are isolating as instructed by Track and Trace will be eligible for sick pay, and can obtain isolation notes from 111 online. Employers will be able to claim a rebate for the sick pay for up to 14 days for each employee.


Could an entire workplace or workforce be isolated?

This could be possible, but only where that workplace doesn’t have the necessary social distancing rules in place, or are unable to do so. This is because, as above, a person has to be in close contact, which is being less than two metres apart for more than fifteen minutes. Where proper social distancing is observed, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The main area at which whole rafts of the workforce may be isolated could be on the use of public transport – if everyone comes in on the same bus, for example, where social distancing isn’t possible, then there could be mass isolation.

If a business wants to reduce the risk of large number of staff being isolated under Track and Trace, they should ensure that social distancing is strictly  observed.

Also, employers might want to consider changing and staggering shift patterns, so there are fewer people in the office at any single time. This will reduce the number of people they come into contact with and will ultimately decrease the chances of the virus spreading.


What about the app and what does the app mean in workplaces?

It was originally intended that everyone would have to download an app, which would assess the location of persons and who they have been in close contact with. Essentially, the app would do the work of the contact tracers, by identifying those persons who’ve been in contact with. The app would/will then notify those people of their isolation obligations.

It is hoped that the app will be up and running next month.

The reports are that the app is till due to be released in due course. When it is released, companies may want to consider what their rules are on allowing mobile phones in workplaces and whether they support the use of the app during work hours. As above, it may be that employees will be contacted during work hours, and informed (through the app) of their contact with an infected person. If the app becomes the only method of this information, employers should ensure that employees have access to this.


Could I force my employees to download the app?

In short, we would suggest that you request staff download the app on health and safety grounds. Whether you can demand that someone downloads an app which has proven health and safety benefits on their personal phone is an untested area; the concerns about employee privacy on their own devices may have precedence over the health and safety concerns. You can, certainly, request that all employees download the app on their work phones, but obviously the concern there is whether they take those work phones with them everywhere they go, or whether they have limited relevance when reviewing everyone an employee has been in contact with. If you do want to force people to download the app, you should perhaps ensure that there is a policy in place, to explain what is expected of employees in their usage of that app.

At the moment, there is no suggestion that it will be mandatory across the UK to download the app.


There are lots more questions regarding how Track and Trace and the plans moving forward might impact the workplace and employees. If you have any further questions, our coronavirus helpline (coronavirus@thrivelaw.co.uk) remains open.


By Alicia Collinson

Related Articles

In The News: Bereavement Leave

Short Time and Layoffs

The Coronavirus Act 2020

SSP and Travel

June’s Top 10 FAQ’s

Hill v Lloyds Bank: Discrimination and Mental Health

Pride month – LGBT legal leaders

Test and Trace update

Furlough Fraud

Commission under Furlough

Marital Discrimination: What Happens when Your Employees Split?

Disability & Shielding

Future of Furlough

Returning to work safely following Covid-19

A Four Day Week – Is It The Future?

Utilising Technology for Mental Health Support during Covid-19

#BLACKLIVESMATTER – HR professionals and their role in tackling racism, and what we are doing at Thrive Law

The importance of Redundancy Consultation – the problem with Jamie’s Italian

LGBTQ+ Figures in the Legal Sector

Calculating notice pay for employees on furlough

The Future of Furlough

Test and Trace: Employer’s Obligations

Life in Lockdown: How it has impacted the #ThriveTribe

Life in Lockdown: The Distressing Rise in Domestic Abuse and How Employers Can Help

Life in Lockdown: The Impact of Grief and Employees’ Rights

Managing my Mental Health as a Mother

Life in Lockdown: NHS Staff and Possible PTSD After COVID-19

Health Care Workers and PPE Concerns: What are Their Duties and How Are They Protected?

The effect of lockdown on diversity in the workplace

Observing Ramadan during Lockdown

Emergency Volunteering Leave

Dealing with redundancy during COVID-19

Health and safety dismissals: An employee’s right to stay safe during a pandemic

Unfurloughing employees

Sleep and mental health

Raising concerns amid Covid-19: Are Employees Protected?

Maintaining your teams Mental Wellbeing (whilst working from home/Furlough)

Workplace Safety: 10 Important Steps to Making Your Workplace Safer for Employees

Airline crew launch “Project Wingman”

Statutory Sick Pay and Coronavirus

Why is sleep so important?

Pregnancy, Maternity and Furlough

Flexible working – is it possible in a law firm?

The superhero firms helping out in the coronavirus crisis

What are the Signs of Stress?

Statutory Duties owed by a Director of a Company; and How Do They Work with Furlough?

A barristers analysis of holiday pay and furlough

Coronavirus and Apprenticeships

Furlough and Annual Leave: How does it work?

Vulnerable and shielded employees; what are your rights?

Workplace Accessibility: Is your workplace accessible to people with disabilities?

Coronavirus – FAQ’s

In the News: Coronavirus Employer obligations

UK in Lockdown – What You Need to Know

The F Word – Furlough

School Closures

The Impact of Coronavirus on Employment – The Home Working Revolution

How to Prepare for a Remote Workforce

Coronavirus is contagious, but panic is too

What are the different types of Whistleblowing?

The Coronavirus and Flexible Working – What Your Organisation Can Do

Key Employment Law Changes in 2020

IR35 Changes – What do you need to know?

In the Media: Fairhall v University Hospital of North Tees & Hartlepool Foundation Trust

There’s a Storm Coming: Do You Have an Adverse Weather Policy for Employees?

May Bank Holiday Change Blog- All Change for 2020!

LGBT+ History Month

Can you sack someone who works in a supermarket and refuses to handle money?

The Thrive Tribe’s Christmas Holiday

In The News: Discrimination and Equal Pay

Keep Informed: Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Brexit – What will the Withdrawal Bill Mean for Employment Rights?

Bring Your Dog to Work – For More Than Just a Day?

In the News: Hangover Days

Political Discourse and Voting at Work: What are Employees’ Rights?

Vegetarianism & Veganism – Are they protected as Philosophical Beliefs?

Diversity: More than just Box-Ticking and Policies

Drugs and Alcohol Policy: Support or Discipline?

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Yorkshire Legal Awards: Diversity and Inclusion Award

Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business: Social Mobility Award

Topic UK Magazine October 2019

Calling Time on the Booze Culture

Mental health discrimination is limiting the opportunities in the workplace for those who have served in the armed forces

How to Thrive – Top tips to reduce stress in your organisation

Asda’s Employment Contract Changes: Fair or Foolish?

Keep Informed: MacDonald’s CEO dismissed for relationship at work

How to Handle Allergies in the Workplace

Menopause in the Workplace

The 4 Day Week Report

Feeling SAD?

Keep Informed: New case criticises workplace “banter” and awards £54,000 for race and sexual orientation discrimination

Surviving or Thriving?

Keep Informed: Women and Equalities Committee proposes changes to enforcement of discrimination rights

The Good Work Plan

Working 9 to 5, 4 Days a Week…?

Is your organisation ready for Generation Z?

Thriving In The Workplace and the #OneMind Petition

Dyslexia in the Workplace

Overpayments and Deductions from wages

The UK’s increasingly diabetic workforce

TheBusinessDesk: Further expansion for law firm; Promotions at engineering specialist; and more

LGBTQIA+ in the Workplace

Eid in the Workplace

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Leeds & Yorkshire Lawyer Magazine – 11th April 2019

Recruiting Times – 12th February 2019 Employment contracts: What to check for before accepting the job

HR News – 6th February 2019 Over half of working Brits have accepted a job offer without checking the contract first.

Yorkshire Legal News – Thrive Law continues rapid growth – 12th November 2018

BR Online: Employee wellbeing and human capital – November 2018

MMB Magazine – 5 November 2018

The Telegraph- Business 24 October 2018

H & N Magazine 3 October 2018

South Leeds Life 3 October 2018

The Yorkshire Post 10 October 2018

Article in People Management- “Employers must do more to tackle male ‘stigma’ around shared parental leave” – 30th July

The Business Desk- “Independent law firm launches in Yorkshire”– July 16th

Interview with Ascension Club Leeds- July 11th

Law Society Gazette – 3rd May 2018

Stylist Magazine – 21st May

Yorkshire Post – 2 May 2018 – Greg Wright The Case for introducing mental health first aiders at work

What Is YOUR Workplace Doing for Ramadan?

April Updates in Employment Law

Thoughts On “Gagging Orders”

Time to Talk Day 2019

The Loneliness Epidemic

Thrive’s round up of 2018!

To talk or not to talk?

Why employers should exercise caution when using NDAs

Being your true self at work boosts mental wellbeing and performance

How to spot and eliminate risks of office workplace accidents

Why The Best Investment Is In Your Mental Health

Supporting LGBT+ Mental Health in the Workplace

What your employer needs to know when your child has a mental health illness – guest blog

The Do’s And Don’t For A Happy Employee – Guest Blog

HR leading the way into GDPR compliance for businesses

Dealing with stress in the workplace

Welcome to our new website and blog!