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COVID-19: Omicron variant and self-isolation

Employment / 02 December 2021

The existing guidance for employers on what to do if employees are required to self-isolate has been updated to reflect changes for contacts of people who have been identified as a suspected or confirmed case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The previous guidance stated that individuals identified as contacts by NHS Test and Trace, including individuals who live in the same household as someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19, do not need to self-isolate if:

—  they are fully vaccinated;
—  they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months;
—  they have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial; or
—  they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons.

However, where the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is involved, these exemptions fall away.

This means that if an employee has been informed that they are a contact of someone who has been identified as a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant, they must now stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days.  This applies to the fully vaccinated and also applies to children.

Action Points

Employers will need to re-visit their business continuity plans and leave policies as it is likely that larger numbers of employees will now be absent from the workplace, either as a result of self-isolation or sickness absence.

Bear in mind that employees with school-aged children may be particularly affected where children are required to remain at home from school because they are a contact of a classmate who has tested positive for the Omicron variant.

Employers should also revisit their workplace risk assessments and consider appropriate adjustments, particularly in light of the upcoming festive season where close contact between large numbers of staff will significantly increase.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email:

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