Business Q&A around change in self-isolation rules
Q: Can my employer require proof of my vaccination status?
A: COVID status is special category data, as it is your private health information. Your employer’s reason for checking or recording your COVID status must be clear, necessary and transparent. If they cannot specify a use for this information and are recording it on a ‘just in case’ basis, or if they can achieve their goal without collecting this data, they are unlikely to be able to justify asking for it.
Q: As an employer, do I have to check my workers’ vaccination status?
A: No, they must let you know if they are legally required to self-isolate. They can be fined if they fail to do this. If they are exempt from self-isolation as a contact because they are fully vaccinated, then no action is needed. Employers are not expected to check their workers’ vaccination status. However, if a worker informs you that they are under a legal duty to self-isolate, then you must not ask them to come into work.
Q: How do I know if someone I employ is exempt from self-isolation if I can’t check their vaccination status?
A: It is up to workers to inform their employers if they are under a legal duty to self-isolate. If they fail to do so – including falsely claiming they are not required to self-isolate – then they can be fined. They may also be subject to your usual disciplinary processes.
Q: If I am exempt from self-isolation, can I still choose to do so?
A: Individuals who are fully vaccinated can still choose to self-isolate if they have close contact with a positive case. However, you will not necessarily be eligible for financial (such as statutory sick pay) or practical support while self-isolating. If you are employed, then depending on the specific circumstances, your employer may require you to continue to come into work if you are exempt from self-isolation.
Q: Can my employer force me to come into work if I am exempt from self-isolation?
A: If you are not legally required to self-isolate, then your employer may require you to continue to come into work, depending on specific circumstances.
It is a confusing landscape out there for businesses at the moment with regards to Grants which are available through Local Authorities, various tiered restrictions has meant that Councils are having to process Local Restrictions Support Grants based on multiple factors.
Full details of the grants can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-restrictions-support-grants-lrsg-and-additional-restrictions-grant-arg-guidance-for-local-authorities
- Local restriction Support Grants (Closed) – please note this is the title of the grant, the grant is not closed to applications – is available to businesses who pay business rates and have been mandated to close as per the governments announcement on the 4th January and previous Tiered level restrictions. Payments can be made to businesses mandated to close however have chosen to operate a click and collect or take away service. Most require an application to receive the first payment.
- Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) – Again the title of the grant – is a discretionary grant however due to Lockdown, is currently closed to applications
- Wet Pub Grants are being paid to pubs who do not serve food and therefore cannot benefit through operating as a take away during lock down
- Additional Restrictions Grants – These are fully discretionary and each local authority has the authority to determine its own criteria, please refer directly to your local authority where you pay your business rates, or where you pay council tax if you work from a residential property. Please visit your local authority’s website in the first instance.
Latest Support from Borough and District Councils
- Waverley Borough Council
- Surrey Heath Borough Council
- Guildford Borough Council
- Woking Borough Council
- Runnymede Borough Council
- Spelthorne Borough Council
- Tandridge District Council
- Mole Valley District Council
- Epsom and Ewell Borough Councill
- Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
Other Government Support and Information
- Travelling safely
- Social distancing guidelines
- Guidance on making and wearing face coverings
- Prevent your business from being evicted
- Support from Department of International Trade
- Check if your retail, hospitality, or leisure business is eligible for business rates relief due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Check if your nursery is eligible for business rates relief due to coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Apply for the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
- Self-employment and Universal Credit
- If you cannot pay your tax bill on time
- Carry out work in people’s homes safely (tradespeople)
- Drivers’ hour’s rules relaxations
- Negotiate a mortgage payment holiday
For health information and advice, go to the NHS’s coronavirus pages by clicking the image below.
Health & Wellbeing
After lockdown, financial pressure, job losses and isolation, Surrey County Council Public Health Team Have a range of support to help those struggling with their mental health, including their Surrey Release the Pressure Campaign: https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/mental-wellbeing/adults/release-the-pressure. There is also a Stay Alive app that you can download.
Other areas of support include:
COVID-19 : Healthy Surrey has a section on COVID-19 and looking after your mental wellbeing. The link is:https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/mental-wellbeing/adults
Mental Health Crisis: https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/mental-wellbeing/adults/crisis
Bereavement and grief: If people have sadly been bereaved there is support available from CRUSE:https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/coronavirus-dealing-bereavement-and-grief
If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek help and talk to a professional.
Together we will get through this!
Surrey Chambers of Commerce exists to connect, support, promote and represent their members within the Surrey business community and have been doing so for 25 years.
During this unprecedented crisis, the services and support that we provide to our members have not changed from the standard level expected from our Chamber members.
We will keep you up to date on business support available for you, we will shout as loud as necessary to government about your challenges and we will continue to promote you to each other.
As with every business, we are making the necessary adjustments to make sure that we can continue to provide support in a safe and secure environment for our team and our members.
Our top priorities to the Surrey business community are:
- To collate all information and guidance from government and other sources and disseminate this to the wider Surrey business community, providing impartial and useful guidance that businesses can trust.
- To listen to business concerns and feedback and where necessary, raise the concern/feedback with the UK government through the British Chambers of Commerce.
- Push the UK government to provide the required support for businesses no matter their size or sector in a timely manner.
- Provide support to our local authorities in promoting their services and support for businesses based within their area and working with them to make sure their messages are reached by the business community.
- Provide our 4 values to our members in promoting, connecting, supporting, and representing them through these difficult times.
- Continue to provide support and services to businesses trading internationally.
- To support businesses once the lockdown restrictions have been relaxed to reactivate the Surrey economy.
Thank you to all those who contributed to our 3rd ‘Impact of COVID-19 on businesses in Surrey’ Survey – you can find the results of the survey here: Analysis of 3rd Survey
As an accredited Chamber to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), we can feed business views, needs and challenges directly to the heart of governments, both in the UK and overseas.
The BCC is in regular communication with the UK government during the COVID-19 pandemic raising issues that businesses are struggling with as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or have issues that have not been covered by recent announcements.
It is important that we feedback your experiences, positive or negative, back to the government when applying for any of the government-supported grants and loans on offer during the Coronavirus outbreak.
As the Coronavirus continues to impact the operations of businesses, the information below will inform you about the steps that businesses can implement to minimise the impact on their business and what support is available from the UK government.
It is recommended that ALL businesses use the official Business Support Finder from the UK government which can be found here.
You can keep up-to-date with the latest support from government here.
You can get answers to business questions via the government helpline, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm – 0300 456 3565.
British Chambers of Commerce
The British Chambers of Commerce has useful information and guidance on their website.
Support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations
Surrey is covered by two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and both have further advice, information, and grants on their website.
Enterprise M3 Growth Hub (covers West Surrey/Hampshire)
Coast2Capital Growth Hub (covers East Surrey/Sussex)
Other Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations
You can find additional support based on your industry/sector here.
Your responsibilities as an employer
- What you need to do and how to keep your employees safe
- Claim for your employee’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employer guide
- Claim back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
- Find out what to do if your employee needs time off to look after dependants
- Which expenses are taxable if your employees work from home
- Apprenticeships: how they can continue
- Guidance for Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors of people affected by coronavirus
Managing your business during coronavirus
- Safe Working Guidance
- How to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment
- Cleaning your workplace safely
- Rules that have been relaxed to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic
- Construction sites and safe working
- Farmers, landowners, and rural businesses
- Food businesses
- Freight transport businesses
- Medical and healthcare industry
- Shipping and seaports businesses
- Supported accommodation, residential care, and home care
- Avoid and report coronavirus scammers