The enhanced COVID-19 restrictions that came into effect on Tuesday 30th November in response to the Omicron variant affects everyone in the UK and could mean more headaches for employers.

In short, the new restrictions are:

Face coverings

  • Face coverings are compulsory in shops and settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so. All hospitality settings are exempt and no businesses are being asked to close.


  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate immediately and then arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible. If this PCR test result is positive, they must continue to self-isolate.
  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status for 10 days. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
  • People without COVID-19 symptoms, but have a positive PCR test result must stay at home and self-isolate.
  • People living in the same household as someone with COVID-19 (but not the new variant) must stay at home and self-isolate if they are not fully vaccinated
  • People living in the same household as someone with COVID-19 that has not been identified as a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant, and are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and 6 months are not required to self-isolate.


  • All international arrivals must take a PCR test by the end of the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

As cases of the new variant seem certain to increase in the coming days and weeks, employers will need to react and manage situations where individuals are self-isolating for any of the above reasons – so what are the options?

  • Allow staff who are self-isolating (but well enough to work) to work from home if possible
  • Staff that can’t work from home should be classified as sick and receive Statutory Sick Pay (or Company Sick Pay if appropriate). The normal waiting period to qualify for SSP has been waived in COVID related cases
  • Pay them as normal if their contractual arrangements facilitate additional discretionary payments and the business can afford it. Any additional payment must be made on fair and equitable grounds.


Follow this link to see the Government’s full guidance for household with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in them:

As always, Pennine HR strives to bring you the most up to date information and advice.  Please contact us for further guidance on right to work checks and people management in general.