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COVID-19 business support 

Somerset Chamber of Commerce is supporting local business throughout the Coronavirus crisis.   

On this page you will find links to key Government Coronavirus grants and loans, as well as the latest advice for businesses and employers.

We are working closely with the British Chambers of Commerce and other leading business organisations to ensure our members’ views and concerns are heard at the very highest levels.

LATEST – changes to self-isolation rules

From August 16, the following applies to anyone who has been pinged or contact traced as having come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Fully vaccinated people
  • Those who are under 18 or fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate
  • Fully vaccinated means having had both doses plus 2 weeks
  • The person no longer has a legal duty to self-isolate and therefore will not have to inform their employer – but they may wish to do so
  • The employer does not need to verify vaccine status or store this health data – see Q&A below
  • NHS Test & Trace will still contact the individual to make them aware and will verify their vaccine status
  • They will be strongly recommended to take a PCR test, but not required to do so

From August 16, people who are unvaccinated, or had one dose, or a second dose within two weeks:

  • Will have to self isolate for the required time
  • This is still a legal duty and the same as currently stands before August 16

Summary: The House Rules

  • If you develop symptoms, you must self-isolate and take a PCR test
  • If you are contact traced and not fully vaccinated, you must legally self-isolate
  • If you are instructed to self-isolate, you must inform your employer
  • If you are double vaccinated, none of the above apply but you should continue to take caution, social distance, use of facemasks and follow government guidelines

Business Q&A

Q: Can my employer require proof of my vaccination status?

A: COVID status is special category data, as it is your private health information. Your employer’s reason for checking or recording your COVID status must be clear, necessary and transparent. If they cannot specify a use for this information and are recording it on a ‘just in case’ basis, or if they can achieve their goal without collecting this data, they are unlikely to be able to justify asking for it.

Q: As an employer, do I have to check my workers’ vaccination status?

A: No, they must let you know if they are legally required to self-isolate. They can be fined if they fail to do this. If they are exempt from self-isolation as a contact because they are fully vaccinated, then no action is needed. Employers are not expected to check their workers’ vaccination status. However, if a worker informs you that they are under a legal duty to self-isolate, then you must not ask them to come into work.

Q: How do I know if someone I employ is exempt from self-isolation if I can’t check their vaccination status?

A: It is up to workers to inform their employers if they are under a legal duty to self-isolate. If they fail to do so – including falsely claiming they are not required to self-isolate – then they can be fined. They may also be subject to your usual disciplinary processes.

Q: If I am exempt from self-isolation, can I still choose to do so?

A: Individuals who are fully vaccinated can still choose to self-isolate if they have close contact with a positive case. However, you will not necessarily be eligible for financial (such as statutory sick pay) or practical support while self-isolating. If you are employed, then depending on the specific circumstances, your employer may require you to continue to come into work if you are exempt from self-isolation.

Q: Can my employer force me to come into work if I am exempt from self-isolation?

A: If you are not legally required to self-isolate, then your employer may require you to continue to come into work, depending on specific circumstances.

Q: If someone has been vaccinated and receives a notification from the NHS Test and Trace app to self-isolate, what should they do?

A: From August 16 those who are fully vaccinated or under 18 years of age and identified as a contact will not need to self- isolate; including if they have received a notification from the app. Instead, they will be advised to get tested. The app is being updated to reflect this and signpost people to testing. For users who have not been fully vaccinated yet, DHSC recommend they continue to follow the app’s advice to self-isolate, as they are at risk of having and spreading the virus.

 

Your guide to Government-led business and employee support, advice and grants

The Government has set out a package of temporary and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses. Full details can be found on the dedicated Government COVID-19 Business Support website by clicking here.

The package of measures to support businesses includes:

If you are not sure what financial support your business may qualify for, use the Government’s online business support finder by clicking here.

  • Additional Government Coronavirus help pages can be found here. The site includes guidance for both employers and businesses, including symptoms, travel advice, sick pay, how to certify absence from work, employees having to take time off to care for relatives, limiting the spread in the workplace and handling post.
  • The Government has set up a dedicated Business Support Helpline – 0300 456 3565 – to enable businesses to find the right help and support across a wide range of topics, from business rates relief, grants and employee advice.
  • HMRC COVID-19 Helpline 0800 0159 559 is available to support businesses and self-employed people who are worried about paying their tax bills due to Coronavirus.
  • Official Government online tool to help companies find the relevant guidance needed to enable them to re-open safely is available online here.
  • Guidance to help employers calculate workplace pension and National Insurance contributions in-line with phased changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will allow workers to return on a part-time basis is available online here. 
  • Government workplace safety guidance for the retail sector can be found online here.
  • Somerset County Council and partners have published a detailed Coronavirus local outbreak management plan. The plan is available online and more information can be found in our news section here.
  • The Government list of ‘key workers’ – those who can keep their children at school or college – can be found online here.
  • Apprenticeships guidance for apprentices, employers and assessment organisations is available here.
  • The Government’s full ‘COVID-19 Recovery Strategy‘ can be read here or a three page executive summary has been produced by the British Chambers of Commerce and can be found on our specialist COVID-19 advice page by clicking here.

British Chambers of Commerce Coronavirus Hub

The BCC has a dedicated site with the latest COVID-19 advice for business. It can be found here.

Additional information

Our members specialise in a wide range of  industries and disciplines and many are offering free support and advice on a range of Coronavirus-related topics. More information can be found on our members’ Coronavirus news page by clicking here.

Chamber Contact

For more info please contact:

Alistair Tudor

Operations Manager

Tel: 01823 444924

Email Alistair >

 

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