The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has criticised the government after self-isolation rules have failed to assess the impact on the self-employed.
The “narrow” list of exemptions leaves many freelancers stuck without the ability to work. Concern is rising after almost 620,000 people were advised to isolate in the week to 14th July, the highest weekly figure to date.
The government has released a list of 16 sectors exempt from isolation if they are ‘pinged’ by the NHS app and required to self-isolate. As part of the requirements, workers must be fully vaccinated and have had two weeks since their second vaccine in order to qualify for exemption.
The exemption list includes key industries such as energy, waste, medicines, border control and local government, but fails to consider largely self-employed industries such as construction, transport drivers and building trades. There are a different set of rules in place for frontline healthcare workers involving a stringent testing regime.
As many self-employed trades are unable to work from home, IPSE fears that this population of workers will once again be left without support, and could be subject to up to 10 days of lost earnings. Derek Cribb, CEO of IPSE said “Although it is understandable that government has focused on critical industries, it has failed to account for people’s working conditions and the fact that for many self-employed people, being told to isolate can be a financial catastrophe.”
The exemption policy only applies to fully vaccinated named workers in approved workplaces, meaning many contractors and self-employed could be left at a disadvantage, even if their sector is on the exempt list. IPSE is calling for the exemption list to be expanded and brought forward to protect the income and livelihoods of many self-employed workers over the coming weeks before the next rule change in August. From 16 August, all people in England who are double vaccinated will be exempt from self-isolation if identified as a close contact.
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