The Management of Covid-19 within Workplaces - Frequently Asked Questions

Public Health is a shared service across Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire. Therefore, the following questions and answers apply to workplaces that are located in Milton Keynes, Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire. Local links have been provided where applicable.

Q1. Where do we need to report that we have a member of staff who tests positive for Covid-19?

Q2. What steps do we need to take within the workplace, if we have a member of staff with a confirmed positive Covid-19 test result?

Q3. How would an employee arrange a test?

Q4. Should we keep staff informed about Covid-19 cases?

Q5. What information should I provide to my staff about Covid-19?

Q6. A staff member has been asked to self-isolate because they are a close contact of a positive case. What is our legal duty to ensure they self-isolate?

Q7. Should staff who have tested positive be re-tested before they return to work?

Q8. What if a close contact takes a test and it is negative?

Q9. How do I arrange Lateral Flow Testing for my workforce?

Q10. Where can I find guidance on COVID safe practices relevant to my workplace?

Q11. What financial help is available for me as an employer and for my employees?

 

Q1. Where do we need to report that we have a member of staff who tests positive for Covid-19?

A: Please follow the most up to date Local Authority Employers flow chart to manage cases and notify public health teams. These can be found here.

How to notify the local Public Health team responsible for Covid-19 in your area:

For queries and confirmed case reporting please contact our Public Health team responsible for COVID-19 on 01234 718141 (office hours Monday - Friday) or public.health@bedford.gov.uk (7 days a week). Emergencies out of hours should be escalated to the Service Director who may contact the Director of Public Health.

 

Q2. What steps do we need to take within the workplace, if we have a member of staff with a confirmed positive Covid-19 test result?

A:

  • Notify the local Public Health team responsible for Covid-19 in your area.
  • Ensure the member of staff stays at home to self isolate for 10 days.
  • Work with the local Environmental Health (EH) and Public Health (PH) Teams on tracing and testing others in the workplace. Complete a RIDDOD notification if applicable.
  • Identify any staff who have been a close contact with the positive case in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms (or from date of test if asymptomatic).

Scenario:

 Jo started feeling unwell with a temperature and a new cough on Friday. She told her manager and was sent straight home that same day to self-isolate for 10 days, counting the Friday as day zero.

Jo was in work whilst symptomatic 48 hours before her symptoms started. This includes Wednesday and Thursday as well as Friday. Jo works in a team with 3 other colleagues. They are separated by screens and do not come into close contact with each other during the day. However, one colleague, David, shares a lift into work with Jo and is therefore a close contact. The last time David travelled into work with Jo was on Thursday (he had a day off on Friday). Because David was in close contact with Jo whilst she was infectious, David must self-isolate for 10 days counting Thursday as day zero.

Ask the positive case the following questions:

What is the date of the onset of symptoms? (this is counted as day zero)When was the positive case last in work or in contact with someone in the course of their work?

Work out if the positive case was at work or in contact with someone in the course of their work whilst infectious. That means 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms (or test date if asymptomatic) and up to 10 days after symptoms started (or test date if asymptomatic) Who has the positive case been in close contact with? Guidance for close contacts definitions found here.

Identifying close contacts of a positive case will help determine who may need to self-isolate for 10 days to help stop the spread of the virus.

Please note: wearing a face covering or face mask does not exempt employees from the close contact rules (unless they are health care or social care workers who wear full PPE and have been trained in its use).

 

Q3: How would an employee arrange a test?

A: If a member of staff develops symptoms, they should request a free test as soon as their symptoms start. Tests should not be requested unless an employee has symptoms.

 

Q4. Should we keep staff informed about Covid-19 cases?

A: Employers may need to keep staff informed about COVID-19 cases among their colleagues. If a co-worker is identified as being a close contact with the positive case, then they can be notified without revealing the identity of the positive case. These contacts may also be notified to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

 

Q5. What information should I provide to my staff about Covid-19?

You should make sure all staff have seen and understand your Covid-19 risk assessment including all relevant Covid-safe practises.You should ensure your staff understand the importance of social distancing, symptoms of Covid-19, what is defined as a close contact and what to do if they get symptoms.Staff should understand the need for PPE (where appropriate) as well as where and how to wear it.Remind your employees to observe HANDS – FACE – SPACE and provide the right materials, such as hand sanitiser, screens, or wipes for shared desks/spaces.  The importance of these measures is explained in the following Government video. You could provide your staff with the following link, detailing stay at home guidance for households with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normalyou have symptoms – self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms startedyou have not had symptoms – self-isolate for 10 days from when you had the test

 

Q6. A staff member has been asked to self-isolate because they are a close contact of a positive case. What is our legal duty to ensure they self-isolate?

A: If a worker is asked by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, you have a legal duty to not knowingly allow them to come into work or encourage them to work anywhere other than their place of self-isolation.

If a worker is asked by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, you should continue to communicate with them and provide supportallow them to work from home if they remain well and it is practicable to do so, for example, by finding alternative work that can be completed at homemust ensure they receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provided they meet the eligibility criteriamay consider giving them the option to use their paid leave days if they preferinstructions on getting an isolation note if you require evidence. You may need this evidence to reclaim SSP.

 

Q7. Should staff who have tested positive be re-tested before they return to work?

No. Staff who have previously tested positive, via an LFT or a PCR test, and have completed their 10-day self-isolation should NOT be re-tested using LFT or PCR for a period of 90 days from their last positive test result. This is because these people will no longer be infectious and are therefore safe to return to work (once well) but may still have traces of the virus which would be detected by a test.

 

Q8. What if a close contact takes a test and it is negative?

A: A close contact should NOT get tested unless they have symptoms of coronavirus. The close contact should still isolate for 10 days from the date of being in contact with the positive case. This helps stop the spread of Covid-19. This is because the person might have caught the virus but may not have produced enough the virus to show on a test in the first few days of being in contact – this is called a false negative.

 

Q9. How do I arrange Lateral Flow Testing for my workforce?

A. The Government is expanding asymptomatic testing across the country to ensure that those who need to leave home for work have access to a test.

Small Workplaces - <50 employees

If you are small workplace (less than 50 employees) in Milton Keynes, Bedford Borough or Central Bedfordshire and have employees who can’t work from home and would like to access regular LFTs, please contact public.health@bedford.gov.uk with the following information:

  1. Name & Address of the Workplace
  2. Type of workplace/sector (main activity) – please chose from:
  • Manufacturing
  • Gas and Electricity Supply and associated activities
  • Water Supply, sewerage, waste management and associated activities
  • Construction
  • Wholesale and retail trade. Including repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
  • Transportation and Storage
  • Accommodation and Food service activities
  • Information and Communication
  • Financial and Insurance
  • Real estate
  • Professional, scientific and technical
  • Administration and support services
  • Public administration and defence, Compulsory social security
  • Education
  • Human health and social work
  • Arts, entertainment and recreation
  • Other
  1. Do staff requiring a test work from home? Yes or No
  2. Do staff have direct contact with the public as part of their role? Yes or No
  3. If Yes, do staff carry out personal care or have close contact with the public?
  4. Name & Contact details of the Workplace Manager
  5. Number of staff to be tested

Medium & Large Workplaces - >50 employees

Medium and large workplaces can access asymptomatic testing through a new testing delivery channel.  Employers can access information and register an interest by emailing p-and-psector@dhsc.gov.uk  or via this link.

 

Q10: Where can I find guidance on COVID safe practices relevant to my workplace?

A: The following 14 guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe. Priority actions are outlined at the top of each guide: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

 

Q11: What financial help is available for me as an employer and for my employees?

A: Funding is available for those business which have been severely impacted by COVID-19. All details of grant eligibility are detailed on the following webpages: 

A: Employees and agency staff who have been asked to self- isolate may be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment Scheme by applying to the Local Authority in which they live. For further information please visit:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated: 24 February 2021