February 26, 2021
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The office guidance on how to keep your workplace safe during the Coronavirus pandemic is constantly evolving as the situation and knowledge changes.

Different rules and guidance can apply in in different parts of the UK so we recommend that you regularly check the guidance for area / sector. Official guidance can be found at:

England –
Northern Ireland –
Scotland –
Wales –

One topic where there have been recent changes to guidance is the reporting of outbreaks in the workplace. In most areas employers are required to report to the local public health authorities if there is an outbreak associated with their workplace.

The most significant change has been to guidance as to what is considered an outbreak in England.

Previously general guidance was that if there are more than 5 cases of COVID-19 associated with your workplace in 14 days, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak.

However recently revised action cards for organisations in England now state you should call your local Health Protection Team when

> you’ve taken the action outlined but are still seeing more cases

> you’re thinking you might need to close because of the number of people affected; and you’ve not had public health support

> somebody in your workplace has been admitted to hospital; you’re getting significant interest from local media

Beyond the specific cases of someone being admitted to hospital, press interest or having so many people absent you may need to close, whether or not you should report a potential outbreak will require a certain amount of judgement based on individual circumstances. Factors to take into account could include the number of people who work at a site and whether or not the individuals who have been diagnosed are from the same household, whether the individuals use the same workspaces etc.

The action cards for England can be found at:

In Scotland the guidance is Organisations should suspect an outbreak if there is either:

  • two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the setting within 14 days, or
  • an increase in staff absence rates, in a setting, due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19


And in Wales if there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with your workforce within a 10-day period, you must contact the PHW incident management team to report them. See and select the guidance for your sector.


Please speak to your normal PIB Risk management contact or get in touch using [email protected] if you have any questions.