Does an employer commit an offence if a worker who is required to self-isolate attends work?

Where a worker is instructed to self-isolate because they have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, their employer must not require or allow them to break their isolation to attend work.

From 28 September 2020, it is an offence in England for an employer knowingly to allow a worker or agency worker to attend the workplace (or any place other than where they are isolating) for any purpose related to their employment, during the isolation period. The offence applies only where the employer is aware of the requirement for the worker to self-isolate. The penalty for such an offence is a fine of between £1,000 and £10,000.

Workers have a duty to inform their employer if they are instructed to self-isolate during a period when they are due to be attending work. They must inform the employer of the start and end dates of the isolation period, as soon as reasonably practicable and, in any event, before they are next due to start work. It is an offence for a worker to fail to give their employer this information.

An agency worker has a duty to inform the agency, the principal (ie the hirer) or their employer (if they are employed by a separate party) if they are instructed to self-isolate. That party must then inform the others.

If a worker is due to be working from home (or the location where they are required to self-isolate), the duty to inform the employer of their self-isolation does not apply. Employers can require workers to work remotely, at the location where they are isolating, during the period of self-isolation.