What happens if a worker has Covid-19 symptoms and orders a test
If a worker develops symptoms, they should request a free test as soon as their symptoms start. Once they have ordered the test, they’ll be asked by the NHS Test and Trace service to provide details of anyone who they have been in close recent contact with.
A close ‘contact’ is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from 2 days before the person was symptomatic up to 7 days from onset of symptoms (this is when they are infectious to others). This could be a person who:
- spends significant time in the same household
- is a sexual partner
- has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), including being coughed on, having skin-to-skin physical contact, or contact within one metre for one minute
- has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes
- has travelled in a small vehicle, or in a large vehicle or plane
- where an interaction between 2 people has taken place through a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, this would not be considered sufficient contact, provided that there has been no other contact.
The contact tracers will not consider the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) as a mitigation when assessing whether a recent contact is likely to have risked transmitting the virus.
Alerting close contacts
When someone first develops symptoms and orders a test, they will be encouraged to alert the people that they have had close contact with in the 48 hours before symptom onset. If any of those close contacts are co-workers, the person who has developed symptoms should consider asking their employer to alert those co-workers. Close contacts at this stage do not need to self-isolate unless requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace or a public health professional.
If the test is positive
If the person with symptoms tests positive for COVID-19, the NHS Test and Trace service will notify their close contacts and instruct them to self-isolate. This will occur by either a phone call, text message, email or letter. The period of self-isolation will be for up to 14 days, from the point of most recent contact with the person who has tested positive for coronavirus.
If you’re told to self-isolate you must stay at home
- explain to your employer that you cannot come to work
- request an isolation note from the NHS
- share the evidence provided by the NHS Test and Trace service with your employer
Getting financial help if you’re asked to self-isolate
If you can continue to work while remaining at home then you must do so, by agreement with your employer.
If it’s not possible for you to work, you can get SSP, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria. Some employers choose to offer more than the statutory minimum and provide more financial support to their workers while they’re off work. This is known as ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay. If you’re no longer able to claim SSP you may be able to claim Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance.