Six in 10 businesses hit by staff shortages caused by self-isolation

2 August 2021

The Government has been urged by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) to review its current self-isolation requirements given that staff shortages currently affect almost 60% of businesses.

Head of Public Policy, Ben Willmott, said: “In light of fast-growing staff shortages, the Government should urgently review the criteria under NHS Test and Trace which requires anyone who has come into close contact with a positive Covid-19 case to self-isolate for 10 days”.

He explained that the review should consider the merits of changes such as “test and release” whereby staff who have been asked to self-isolate could return to work if they subsequently have two negative PCR tests over five days.

This problem of staff being required to self-isolate is only going to grow as the economy continues to open up after restrictions end, the CIPD has highlighted, with the risk that disruption to organisations’ services and operations will start to have severe consequences for the public and business.

In the meantime, Mr Willmott said, employers will have to be flexible to cope with absent workers and to mitigate against staff shortages by freeing staff from less business-critical areas and using temporary workers where possible.

Inevitably, businesses may have to compromise service at times to ensure guidance is followed, he conceded.

Mindful of the risks not just to physical health but also to their employees’ mental wellbeing, employers should continue to encourage people to work from home where possible, the CIPD has suggested.

For roles where employees need to be in the workplace, organisations should continue using measures to reduce staff contact, such as staggered start and finish times.