Introduction to this document

Notification of self-isolation memo

You can be fined £1,000, rising to £10,000, if you knowingly allow a worker who’s legally required to self-isolate to come to work. Our memo advises your staff of their duty to tell you if they’re required to self-isolate and makes clear that they mustn’t come to work.

Legal duty

If an individual develops coronavirus symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and then arrange to take a coronavirus test in accordance with existing guidance. The law imposes a legal obligation on individuals in England to self-isolate, normally at their home, for designated periods where they’ve been officially notified that they, or someone in their household or with whom they’ve had close contact, have then tested positive for coronavirus. A breach of these rules is a criminal offence and can lead to a £1,000 fine, rising to £10,000 for repeat offences and serious breaches. However, where an individual has been officially notified that they’re a close contact of someone who has tested positive, they’re now exempt from the legal obligation to self-isolate if they’re either fully vaccinated against COVID-19, are below the age of 18 years and six months, have taken part (or are currently taking part) in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial or are not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons. Where they’re exempt, if they develop coronavirus symptoms, they should then still self-isolate and get tested regardless of their vaccination or exemption status. There’s also no legal obligation to self-isolate if any individual is notified through the NHS Covid-19 smartphone app that they’ve had close contact with someone who’s tested positive.

Employer obligation

Importantly, you commit an offence, punishable by the same level of fine, if you’re aware of a worker’s (or agency worker’s) requirement to self-isolate and, without reasonable excuse, you knowingly allow them to attend their workplace or any other place for employment-related purposes (other than their place of isolation). The rules don’t prevent a worker working from home if they’re able to do so and that’s their place of isolation, but they do mean that if you know a worker has tested positive, or is a close contact of someone who’s tested positive and they aren’t exempt from the self-isolation obligations, you’re responsible for stopping them from attending work. To support this provision, where a worker is due to work for you during their isolation period other than at their place of isolation, they must notify you of the requirement on them to self-isolate, plus the start and end dates of their isolation period. This notification can be given in any format, but it must be provided as soon as reasonably practicable and, in any event, before the worker is next due to start work within their isolation period. Failure to notify you is also a criminal offence, but with a smaller £50 fine. In the case of agency workers, the recipient of the notification must then inform others in the agency chain. However, if the worker is exempt from self-isolation, they don’t need to inform you where they’ve been advised that they’re a close contact of a positive case.


Most workers won’t be aware of the potential to commit an additional offence if they don’t inform you of the requirement on them to self-isolate (where that requirement applies). Our Notification of Self-Isolation Memo brings the self-isolation rules to their attention, whilst at the same time ensuring that you’re being crystal clear about the fact that self-isolating workers must not come to work, and they could be disciplined if they do so.