Summary of current self-isolation guidance for staff

28 July 2021

Like many sectors, the housing sector is currently reporting high levels of staff absence due to self-isolation after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace or 'pinged' by the NHS App.

We understand that this is creating challenges across the workforce, from office staff providing customer service to residents, to frontline staff carrying out repairs and maintenance in homes.  

This challenge is particularly acute for our members providing supported and sheltered housing, and managing care homes. We are in discussion with MHCLG on the impact of staff absence and have had confirmation that supported housing staff will again be recognised as part of the wider definition of social care staff used in relation to early access to vaccination.

In the meantime, we’ve summarised the latest information for fully vaccinated health and social care staff and critical workers, including how to contact MHCLG if you think your staff are eligible for exemptions.

Health and social care staff

The management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings guidance has been updated to clarify the shift in policy for self-isolation in certain circumstances for fully vaccinated social care and NHS staff. The reference to social care staff should be read to include any critical front-line staff in supported and sheltered housing settings, including extra-care housing, supported living, homelessness hostels and other homelessness and domestic abuse refuge settings.

Section 2.5.2 makes it clear that the exemption to isolation is only to be used in exceptional circumstances for critical staff where “there is a likelihood that staff absence creates a significant risk to the health or safety of patients or services users...”

A number of other things apply:

  • Staff members given an exemption must have a negative PCR test and daily LFD tests.
  • The decision is subject to risk assessment by an individual nominated by organisation's management and authorisation by the organisation's local Director of Infection Prevention and Control/lead professional for health protection/Director of Public Health.
  • The staff member should remain free of coronavirus symptoms
  • The staff member should comply with all IPC measures
  • Outside of work the staff member will have to return to self-isolation. 

There is now no mention of exempt staff having to avoid contact with people classified as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Critical workers

Fully vaccinated critical workers are to be able to leave self-isolation in exceptional circumstances. Updated guidance sets a narrow definition of ‘critical’.  

If you think that some of your staff might be eligible email the dedicated MHCLG address on this webpage.

In order to manage the volume of requests MHCLG officials have requested that you have closely considered the stringent eligibility criteria contained in the guidance and put ‘FOR ESCALATION’ clearly in the subject line. Emails will not be considered without this in the subject line. 

Please ensure you have included all the information requested on this webpage - without this information the lead MHCLG team will not be able to process your request:

We will share any clarification on the new systems as soon as we get more information. 

Please get in touch on the details below if you have and questions or comments.

Who to speak to

Suzannah Young, Policy Officer