Updated Guidance on Coronavirus for your Business- August 2021

Updated Guidance on Coronavirus for your Business

You may be aware that further Coronavirus rule changes apply from 16 August 2021 as part of the UK Government’s wider roadmap to unlock the economy and begin to facilitate international travel again.  The rule changes are primarily focused on the self-isolation requirement when travelling abroad.

This update also provides some additional guidance on international business travel, planning of holidays [especially if these are abroad] and finally some advice regarding proof of vaccination and covid status, and what information employers can reasonably ask their team members for.  We also consider what this means for our Data Protection responsibilities as employers.

This guidance is applicable at time of writing [9 August 2021], one of the many things the pandemic has taught us is the fluid and changing nature of the virus and how it impacts on wider Public Health guidance and Government policy.  Please do check link below for the very latest information

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Changes to self-isolation rules after 16 August 2021

We are now in peak holiday season – which means many families are very keen to holiday abroad for some sunshine and have been restricted from travelling internationally.  They will be keeping a close eye on the Government ‘watch list’ countries.

For example, France has recently been removed from the amber watch list and other countries have moved between lists.  It is a continuous process of review based on data and this means that things can change quickly.

The main impact of the changes from 16 August 2021 are as follows.  From 16 August 2021 fully vaccinated people will no longer have to self-quarantine in all cases, providing their post 2 day arrival Covid test is negative.  In the event of a positive test [post arrival day 2] people will still be required to self-quarantine for the full 10 days.

Travellers are strongly encouraged to check the rules relating to their country of destination, their country of departure plus any countries they may be travelling through.

Employees who are contemplating taking foreign holidays should carefully consider the personal inconveniences and additional costs they may be liable for, including quarantine hotels and potential delays whilst additional checks are completed at international borders. People are also strongly advised to check the terms of their travel insurance policies prior to travel.

International Business Travel

Businesses are giving careful consideration to any international business travel, due to the complexity and nature of the rules which often change quickly.  Many businesses are opting to avoid international travel this summer altogether, and instead use technology to connect remotely to ensure business continuity throughout the pandemic.  Where business international travel is essential and unavoidable, trips should be carefully planned including the contingency for a period of self-isolation on return to the UK.  We know that periods of self-isolation can be disruptive and costly for employers so it is essential to plan ahead.

For these reasons, in our experience at Apex, the majority of organisations are taking a sensible and pragmatic approach, utilising digital technology this year and avoiding the need for people to physically travel internationally.  This is also an effective way of your organisation reducing its carbon footprint so is beneficial for the environment too.

Proof of covid status and vaccination status

As many of the rule changes apply to those people who have been double vaccinated, providing authentic proof of this status is an important part of the process.

Organisations are encouraged to think about the reasons for requesting proof of individual covid status and vaccine status, ensuring they are transparent with their teams about the reasons for requesting this information.  As with most things when it comes to good HR practice, honesty and transparency are essential to cultivate trust.

GDPR only applies to the ‘processing’ of personal data.  If you are completing a visual check using the Covid Pass [either in hard copy form or held on a digital device] this does not constitute processing, and therefore GDPR does not apply. If you then keep any records of people’s vaccine status, for example on a spreadsheet, this would constitute processing and GDPR then applies.  The ICO have been clear that a person’s Covid status and vaccination status are both ‘special category data’ under Data protection law, which means that additional protections should apply.

The following summary from the ICO website explains the rationale for this

“Your reason for recording your employees’ vaccination status must be clear and necessary. If you cannot specify your use for this information and are recording it on a ‘just in case’ basis, or if you can achieve your goal without collecting this data, you are unlikely to be able to justify collecting it. You should also take into account that accepting the offer of a vaccine is a personal decision, which could be influenced by a number of factors”

The ICO has published helpful updated guidance which you can check at

Vaccination and COVID status checks | ICO

You can also contact our Data Protection specialist, Kelly if you wish to seek further advice or reassurance about the Data Protection implications when requesting information from your teams about their Covid and/or vaccination status.

You can contact Kelly at kelly.miller@apexhr.co.uk

The Apex at team will continue to keep you updated as soon as we become aware of any significant changes.  Our whole ethos is around support for people, we recognise how challenging this whole period has been for everyone and like yourselves, we are positive and optimistic about the future.  It’s important to continue to do the real basics consistently well, listening openly and without judgement as our team members will all be experiencing their own unique challenges.  We have seen many inspiring examples of excellent team communication, support and a genuine togetherness which has made a huge difference in our businesses during the last year or so and in most situations, has bought teams even closer together.

If you would like to discuss any specific issues relating to your business or to individual situations, please contact a member of the Apex team and we will be delighted to help.

With warm wishes, Team Apex.

At Apex HR, we believe in challenging the status quo when it comes to people at work. Outdated HR thinking and methods just won’t cut it in a rapidly changing and dynamic world. It is time for a new approach.