Living with COVID: Key dates for employers

Posted on March 8, 2022
Posted by Frankie Mundy

living with covidOn Monday 21 February, the Government published its ‘Living with COVID-19’ plan for England. This sets out its roadmap for phasing out COVID-19 restrictions over the coming months. In this blog, we’ve highlighted the key dates that employers need to know about and some steps your business should be taking now to prepare. 

Note that the rules are different in Wales, and businesses operating there should ensure that they stay up to date with the latest Government guidance


What’s changing?


24 February 2022: End to self-isolation rules

From 24 February, the legal requirement in England for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 (or who have any of the main COVID-19 symptoms) to self-isolate has been removed, and routine contact tracing has ended. Instead, individuals who test positive are encouraged by Government guidance to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Equally, individuals who live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to work from home if possible. 

Find out more in our Q&A on Dealing with sickness absence


17 March 2022: The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme closes

The Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme was reintroduced for periods of sickness absence due to coronavirus taken on or after 21 December 2021. The end date for the scheme has been confirmed as 17 March 2022, which means eligible SME employers will no longer be able to reclaim SSP for coronavirus related sickness absences after that date. 

Find out more in our Q&A on Payment during sickness absence


24 March 2022: The final day for making claims under the Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus SSP Rebate Scheme closes on 17 March (see above) and all claims must be made (and/or amended) by 24 March 2022. 


24 March 2022: End to coronavirus related sick pay rules

From 24 March 2022, SSP rules will return to the pre-pandemic position. This means that:

  • SSP will no longer be payable from day one in respect of coronavirus related absences. Instead, SSP will only be payable from the fourth day of sickness onwards; and

  • SSP will no longer be available for people who are self-isolating but are not otherwise unwell. 


For further guidance, see our Q&A on Payment during sickness absence


1 April 2022: Requirement to explicitly consider COVID-19 in health and safety risk assessments ends

The Government currently requires businesses to explicitly consider COVID-19 risks as part of their health and safety risk assessment when they reopen their premises, and this must be kept under regular review. From 1 April 2022, this requirement will be removed, however employers will be responsible for mitigating COVID-19 risks as appropriate to their workplace circumstances. They should also continue to consider how they can protect staff who are at higher risk of COVID-19, such as pregnant staff and those with a weakened immune system, and the Government has advised that new health and safety guidance on how to do so will be released from 1 April. 

For further guidance see our Q&A on Health and safety when returning to work during coronavirus


1 April 2022: Guidance recommending COVID status checks will end

Although since 27 January 2022 it has not been a legal requirement for certain venues in England (eg nightclubs) to check the COVID status of visitors to their event or premises, they have been encouraged to do so on a voluntary basis. From 1 April, this guidance will end and COVID status checks will no longer be recommended. 

See our Q&A guidance on Collecting data for NHS Test and Trace for further guidance. 


Steps for employers to take now

As these changes start to come in, you should review your workplace policies and procedures (eg in relation to sickness absences and health and safety) to ensure that they are up-to-date and reflect the current legal position. 

You must bear in mind that although COVID-19 restrictions are changing, you still have obligations to keep your workers and visitors to your premises safe. As such, you should carefully consider what measures are appropriate as part of your health and safety risk assessment. In particular, you will need to consider what your policy will be towards staff who have tested positive for, or live in the same household as someone who has tested positive for, COVID-19. 

Make sure that you communicate clearly with your staff about any changes to your workplace policies and procedures. If any of the changes you are introducing will require amendments to your staff members’ employment contracts, you may need to get their consent first. 

Bear in mind that some staff may be anxious about returning to the workplace, and it’s a good idea to talk to them about their concerns and try to reach an agreement with them. It’s important to remember that your health and safety obligations towards your staff extend to their mental health, which includes work-related stress and anxiety. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for you to agree to a flexible working arrangement with your staff member (eg so they can continue working from home, or in a hybrid working arrangement, or so they can temporarily adjust their start and finish times to avoid peak travel times). In other cases, if you are unable to reach a suitable compromise, you may ultimately want to take disciplinary action against staff who refuse to return. Our Q&A on Taking disciplinary action will guide you through how to follow a fair disciplinary process. 

For detailed guidance about what you need to consider when bringing staff back into the workplace, see our Q&A on Returning to the workplace after coronavirus. Our Returning to the workplace checklist allows you to check each step off as you go, making sure you don’t miss anything out.


The content in this article is up to date at the date of publishing. The information provided is intended only for information purposes, and is not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Sparqa Legal’s Terms of Use apply.