The NHS Test and Trace service and its effect on pay

17 June 2020

The NHS test and trace service ensures that anyone symptomatic of coronavirus can quickly determine whether or not they have the virus, and also works to trace recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus, and notifies them to self-isolate if necessary, to stop the spread of the virus.

The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 were laid to come into force from 28 May 2020, and mean that those who have been contacted via a relevant notification, and advised to stay at home and self-isolate, will be deemed as incapable of work, and therefore entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

The public must take certain steps in order for the test and trace service to be a success, and they include:

  • Individuals self-isolating if symptomatic of coronavirus along with other members of their household, and ordering a test to determine whether or not they have coronavirus
  • Where individuals test positive for coronavirus, they must promptly share information about recent contacts through the NHS track and trace service, so that those people can be contacted and potentially advised to self-isolate
  • If an individual has been in close contact with someone who had coronavirus, they must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises them to do so

The guidance is only applicable in England, and different rules may apply in the devolved nations.

If an individual has coronavirus, they will be contacted via text message, email or phone and they will be provided with a link to the NHS test and trace website. They should then create a confidential account where they can disclose information about recent close contacts.

Contact tracers will:

  • Call from 0300 013 5000
  • Send text messages from ‘NHStracing’
  • Ask individuals to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website
  • Ask for an individual’s full name and date of birth to confirm their identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
  • Ask about the coronavirus symptoms the individual has been experiencing
  • Ask individuals to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone they have had close contact with in the 2 days prior to their symptoms starting
  • Ask if individuals have been in contact with anyone who is under 18, or lives outside of England

Contact tracers will never:

  • Ask individuals to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • Ask individuals to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • Ask for any details about an individual’s bank account
  • Ask for an individual’s social media identities or login details, or those of their contacts
  • Ask for an individual’s passwords or PINs, or ask them to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • Disclose any of an individual’s personal or medical information to their contacts
  • Provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
  • Ask individuals to download any software to their PC, or ask them to hand over control of their PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • Ask an individual to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

Workers in self-isolation are entitled to SSP for every day that they spend in isolation, if they meet the eligibility conditions, and this is also applicable for those self-isolating due to the test and trace service.


The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.