The Government has published guidance for employers on the Test and Trace scheme. This states that employers should request workers to self-isolate if they have been asked to do so by Test and Trace, and support them when in isolation. It recommends that employers maintain contact with employees who are isolating.
This guidance also suggests allowing such employees to work from home if possible, which the guidance suggests may involve finding them alternative work temporarily (there is no legal obligation to do this). The guidance also suggests that employers may allow employees to use holiday instead of sick pay if they wish (see below in relation to sick pay).
An employer who knowingly requires an employee to attend work when they have been required to self-isolate following a notification from Test and Trace is committing a criminal offence (with a fine of £1000, increasing to up to £10,000 for repeat offences), and any individual directors or managers who are involved may also be individually liable.
The Test and Trace service will contact colleagues who have been in close contact with the employee who tested positive. For this reason, you may wish to encourage employees to be clear on issues such as social distancing measures in place and which individuals they were actually near, to seek to reduce the risk of the net being cast unduly wide by the Test and Trace service. Many businesses are very concerned about the risk of operations being, effectively, shut down for two weeks as a result of Test and Trace.
In any event, as soon as you are aware that a colleague has symptoms or has tested positive, it is advisable to take your own steps to establish who they have been in close contact with and put in place appropriate arrangements to protect them and other colleagues.