Can an employer require an employee to attend work if they test positive for coronavirus but are asymptomatic?

The legal requirement for people who test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) to self-isolate has been removed. However, requiring employees to attend the workplace if they have tested positive may be a breach of the employer's legal obligations to protect the health and safety of their employees and others.

Following the removal of the self-isolation duty in England, the government guidance, People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19, confirms that public health advice for people who test positive is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. The guidance states that they should work from home if they can. Guidance to stay at home also applies in the other parts of the UK.

To comply with their health and safety duties towards employees, employers should encourage employees who test positive to follow the government recommendation of staying at home. In particular, employers should keep in mind their duties towards employees who are clinically vulnerable from coronavirus, where working alongside colleagues who have tested positive would put them at a particular risk.