The Government has confirmed that ‘fully-vaccinated’ (14 days post a second dose) workers carrying out a ‘critical role’ may in exceptional circumstances be able to leave self-isolation to attend work if they are deemed to be a close contact.
Exceptional circumstances include ‘where there would otherwise be a major detrimental impact on essential services’ and will only cover a limited number of named workers.
Employers covered by this process will not have a blanket or automatic exemption, they will receive a letter from a government department setting out the designated critical workers and telling employers what steps they and those critical workers must follow.
Where employers believe the self-isolation of certain key employees would result in serious disruption to critical services, they should contact the relevant government department for a decision and guidance. The individual will need to take a PCR test as soon as possible followed by daily LFD tests before attending work each day of their self-isolation period. If they test positive or start to show symptoms, they must immediately self-isolate and will no longer be able to attend work.
The exemption is solely so employees can attend work and they must otherwise continue to self-isolate as directed by NHS Test and Trace.
This process is only intended to run until 16 August 2021, when fully vaccinated close contacts will be exempt from self-isolation. The Government has stated that exemptions will be highly limited and focused to prevent public harm from disruption to critical services. It will only apply to named individuals from a specific set of industries:
- Civil nuclear
- Digital infrastructure
- Food production
- Veterinary medicines
- Essential chemicals
- Essential transport
- Medical devices
- Clinical consumable supplies
- Emergency services
- Border control
- Essential defence outputs
- Local government
- Separate arrangements are in place for frontline health and care staff
Full details can be found here NHS Test and Trace in the workplace – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) under the heading ‘Critical Workers’ and this includes contact details for each industry.