May 28, 2020 / 6:37 AM / a month ago

UK employers should pay wages of those asked to isolate by COVID-19 trace system: minister

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks during a daily news conference on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain May 27, 2020. Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Employers should pay the wages of anyone told to stay at home by England’s COVID-19 test and trace system, British health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday.

The service is aimed at allowing the loosening of lockdown measures for most of the population. From Thursday, contacts of those who test positive will be instructed to isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

Asked during an interview on Sky News if employers were being asked to step in and pay people’s wages while they isolate, Hancock said: “Yes.”

“If you are instructed by the NHS, for public health reasons, to stay at home then that is the equivalent in employment law to being ill and it is very important that employers are flexible about this,” he said.

Hancock also said an accompanying tracing app, that is key to finding anonymous contacts, is ready but is not being brought in yet.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton, Writing by Kylie MacLellan

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