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Over a third of Brits would go into work Covid-positive

Almost four in 10 Britons (37%) say they are likely to go to work following a positive Covid-19 test result.

Data released yesterday (24 February) by market research company Ipsos showed that the same proportion was likely to go to a shop or supermarket when Covid positive, putting retail workers at risk.

Financial freedom will be the key to persuading those with the virus to stay at home and isolate, rather than bringing it to work, said Paul Boustead, chief people and culture officer at the University of Leeds.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “[There needs to be] good sick pay, and an acceptance from the organisation that there needs to be greater utilisation and reliance on temporary cover, as part of their short-term workforce planning."

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Fewer than half of Brits (45%) said they were unlikely to go to work when positive.

“[Temporary cover is necessary] to cover essential services, so the workloads of those in the workplace are not adversely impacted due to the staff with Covid not coming into work.” 

Actively encouraging staff to keep testing for the time being, Boustead added, can help minimise the virus’s impact on the workforce.

The prime minister announced on 21 February that lateral flow tests would remain freely available until 1 April.

Tilly Harries, barrister and HR support service leader at PwC UK, told HR magazine that businesses will have to review their Covid policies and communicate what they decide clearly to their staff.

She said: "Employers will need to decide whether they allow employees to exercise a "common sense" approach to Covid as they do with other illnesses such as the flu, or whether they take their own steps, in the absence of government legislation, to impose additional measures for staff with Covid or Covid symptoms.

“It would be worth business leaders checking in with employees on their concerns and preferences to ensure there are no unintentional consequences from a policy stance, such as employees opting to remain at home and avoid attending the workplace if a policy is not to their liking or they feel they haven't been appropriately consulted.”

Boustead added: “I think if organisations have safe environments that are HSE compliant that there should be little cause for concern.”