Employers able to apply for exemption from self-isolation for critical staff

Monday, 26 July 2021

Self-isolation exemptions announced won’t stop growing staff crisis

The Scottish Government has confirmed that workers will not have to self-isolate when they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid if they are employed in a company that is defined as part of the UK Critical National Infrastructure.     Employers will have to apply for the temporary extension and submit evidence demonstrating why it is necessary.    They can only apply for an exemption for staff who have voluntarily agreed to waive self-isolation and the employees themselves must meet certain criteria to be eligible, including double vaccination and PCR and lateral flow testing. 

Business that are in the following sectors are eligible to apply: chemicals; civil nuclear, communications; defence; energy; finance; food; space; health; transport; water. 

Alan Mitchell, Chief Executive of Fife Chamber, said: “The exemptions that are allowed under these rules are welcome because they recognise that there is a big problem, but I am not confident they will properly address it.    Many sectors aren’t eligible.   The eligibility of others, particularly manufacturing companies that are part of a long and complex supply chain, is unclear, and the Scottish Government does not have a good track record of producing clear and timely guidance that allows companies to be confident that their employees will be eligible.   It looks like a complex application process that requires lots of evidence and if there isn’t sufficient resource allocated by the Scottish Government to review and respond to applications quickly, then frustrating and damaging delays are sure to occur.   

“The First Minister said these changes were being implemented ahead of possible changes to self-isolation rules for close contacts that may apply more generally in the future.   Managing Covid proportionately requires this more general changes in self-isolation to happen sooner rather than later, or we’ll could have so many workers self-isolating that we will be in a lockdown by any other name, with all the consequences that will have for business viability, jobs and mental health.”

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