Can you go to work with Covid?

Or, more importantly, should you? Here’s everything you need to know

Kate Ng
Tuesday 15 November 2022 11:40 GMT
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed the Workplace

Ever since the British government ended all legal Covid-19 restrictions earlier this year, cases numbers have continued to fluctuate.

Even as former prime minister Boris Johnson published his Living with Covid plan in February, ending mandatory masks, social distancing and self-isolation measures, the arrival of the contagious Omicron BA.2 sub-variant quickly drove the infection rate up before it fell away in spring, a pattern of ebb and flow that has continued ever since.

While lockdowns and tiers may now seem a distant memory, the virus is very much still with us. Cases have begun to rise again, with warnings that Covid will once again put pressure on the NHS this winter.

The Living with Covid plan brought an end to the legal requirement for employees to tell their employers when they have tested positive for the virus and need to self-isolate. But with the threat from Covid still very real, is going to work when sick really such a good idea?

Can I go to work with Covid?

Yes, you can go to work even after testing positive for Covid and there is no legal obligation to tell your employer if you are infected.

However, workers are encouraged to follow the government’s guidance for people who become infected with the virus and self-isolate for seven days.

Do I have to test for Covid before going to work?

No, you don’t have to test for Covid before going anywhere, including to work.

Most people in England are no longer advised to get tested and can no longer get free lateral flow tests from the NHS unless you are one of a small number of people who are eligible.

Those who want to get tested must buy a Covid-19 test from pharmacies and other retailers.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

The government has set out guidance for people who have symptoms of a respiratory infection but have not taken a test for Covid-19, as well as for those who have taken a test and received a positive result.

Symptoms of common respiratory infections and Covid-19 include a continuous cough; high temperature or fever; loss of, or change in normal sense of taste or smell; shortness of breath; lack of energy; lack of appetite; headache; sore throat and stuffy or runny nose.

According to the Department for Health and Social Care, you should work from home if you can and avoid contact with other people if you are experiencing these symptoms.

It is especially important to avoid close contact with anyone you know who may be at higher risk of becoming seriously sick if they catch Covid-19.

If you must leave your home, you should wear a face covering and avoid crowded or poorly ventilated places.

If you receive a positive Covid-19 test, you are also advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days after the day you took your test.

However, you should avoid meeting people at higher risk of serious illness from Covid-19 for 10 days after the day you took your test.

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