CBI: Speed is of the essence in tackling self-isolation staff shortages

With the removal today of many COVID-related restrictions, the CBI is calling for immediate changes to the current self-isolation policy as part of measures needed to create confidence and secure the economic recovery.

Lord Bilimoria reiterated his call for the government not to wait until 16 August, but immediately allow double-jabbed individuals not to self-isolate for 10 days, and create a route out of isolation for people not yet fully vaccinated.

A number of employers, including Nissan, Marks & Spencer, and Greene King, have said in recent days that the number of their staff being required to self-isolate has forced them to reduce hours or change their operations.

CBI president, Lord Karan Bilimoria, said: “With restrictions being lifted and cases rapidly increasing, we urgently need a surefooted approach from government, creating confidence to secure the recovery. This starts by immediately ending the self-isolation period of ten days for people who are double-jabbed and providing a route out of isolation for those not yet fully vaccinated through daily lateral flow tests.”

He added: “Against the backdrop of crippling staff shortages, speed is of the essence. Building and maintaining confidence is key to securing the economic recovery. Business and government will continue working together, helping people and businesses live safely and successfully with the virus. Mask wearing in enclosed spaces, especially transport, will help create confidence for both staff and customers, as will clarity around the future availability of free testing for employees.”

Meanwhile, half of managers think the government is easing COVID restrictions too quickly, according to a survey from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Concerns relating to the so-called ‘pingdemic’ of people being told to self-isolate by the NHS track and trace app were also apparent, with 53% of managers concerned that staff being forced to self-isolate would impact day-to-day operations.

While the government has taken the decision to remove most COVID restrictions, CMI's findings show that businesses are taking a decidedly more conservative approach, with 76% of managers saying previously implemented safety measures would remain.

Ann Francke, chief executive of CMI, said: “It’s clear that the workplace is going to be a very different place to what it was in March 2020, and there’s some major differences of opinion on health-related issues within the UK workforce. But many employees think freedom day has arrived too soon and plan to carry on with caution by keeping previous COVID safety measures in place. No doubt the lack of clarity and consistency in government messaging has left managers confused and anxious.”

CMI has launched a Better Manager’s Roadmap, a free guide to help employers successfully manage in the radically altered workplace. Francke added: “Managers need to keep communicating with staff and to be as flexible as possible regarding different ways of working. Failure to deal with these new challenges effectively could result in a two-tier workforce and an employee exodus.”

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