Self-Isolation for workers in critical services – Government Guidance

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

The Government has this evening published information on what to do if you or someone you employ is required to self-isolate and they work in a critical service.

The sectors include energy, digital infrastructure, waste, essential transport, border control, food supply, emergency services, essential defence outputs, and local government.  Separate arrangements are in place for frontline health and care staff.

The policy applies to named workers in specifically approved workplaces who are fully vaccinated and who have been identified as close contacts.  It is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector.

The test applied is whether an individual works in critical elements of national infrastructure and whether their absence would be likely to lead to the loss or compromise of this infrastructure resulting in one or both of the following:

  • major detrimental impact on the availability, integrity or delivery of essential services – including those services whose integrity, if compromised, could result in significant loss of life or casualties;
  • significant impact on national security, national defence, or the functioning of the state.

The process is exceptional for these specific circumstances. It is not intended to avoid all disruption to services that will result from the need for people to self-isolate.  The process will not cover all, or in most cases even the majority, of workers in critical sectors.

Where employers believe the self-isolation of certain key employees as contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, they should contact the relevant government department.  There is further guidance on the information to be provided, and the contact address for each sector. 

Where a specific case meets the criteria, the employer will receive a letter from the relevant department setting out the named critical workers designated and telling them what measures they and those workers need to follow.

Unless employers have a letter from a government department on which the workers are specifically named, this policy does not apply and employees should self-isolate as directed.

Separate arrangements are in place for frontline health and care staff.

The updated guidance is here:


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