Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – fully vaccinated social care and care home staff after a COVID-19 contact: return to work guidance

Published: 26 Jul 2021
Last updated: 24 Sep 2021 - see all updates

Information about the conditions which will enable fully vaccinated social care and care home staff who are COVID-19 close contacts to return to work.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – fully vaccinated social care and care home staff after a COVID-19 contact: return to work guidance
When the policy applies

When the policy applies

The policy will apply when a social care or care home staff member is a close contact of someone who tests positive for Covid. This policy also applies when the close contact is an immediate household contact (someone living with the social care or care home worker).

Social care and care home services no longer need to demonstrate that they are in an extremis position before asking staff to return to work. Health and Social Care Partnerships also no longer need to approve staff returning to work. Responsibility for asking staff to return to work and ensuring that the guidance is implemented lies with the individual social care employer.

Staff who meet the Public Health Scotland conditions outlined below can return to work. These mirror the conditions for those in the general population with the exception of daily LFD testing. Daily testing is an additional clinical safeguard for health and social care workers.

  • the staff member is fully vaccinated for at least 14 days prior to exposure (with the day of vaccination counting as ‘day 1’)
  • the staff member has had a negative PCR test result prior to returning to work
  • for staff who have had a PCR positive test within the last 90 days – then they should undertake a LFD test. If that LFD test is negative then they can return to work. If positive then they should not return to work and undertake a PCR – if PCR positive they should self-isolate from date of positive LFD. If PCR negative then they return to work and continue to undertake LFD testing daily.
  • if a staff member has recently returned a positive PCR or LFD test and is currently self-isolating as a result they should not return to work
  • the staff member performs a daily LFD test, records the results, and informs manager up to day 10 from Covid exposure
  • a member of staff will be required to have daily Lateral Flow Testing for 10 days following their last exposure. If the index case (contact) is a household member the daily LFD testing will begin from the date the household contact develops symptoms or when a positive test (LFD or PCR) is returned if asymptomatic.
  • they are symptom free, (Coronavirus (COVID-19): General advice | NHS inform) and currently not self-isolating due to having a recent COVID-19 positive test
  • staff members adhere to infection prevention and control appropriate to the setting in which they work
  • PPE should be worn in accordance with the relevant Scottish COVID 19 IPC addenda (for information Care Home and Community Health and Care settings)
  • staff are advised to limit contact as part of the COVID mitigation advice that is also issued to the general population

During the ten day period after exposure to Covid, even when all the conditions are in place, staff should not return to work with people who would be deemed high risk clinically. This would include high clinical risk residents in care homes or people being cared for in the community who are on chemotherapy, immune-suppressants such as pre/immediately post-transplant, and those who have profound immune-deficiency and other high clinical risk patients who are not vaccinated or in a vulnerable clinical state. This list is not exhaustive and local line managers may determine other groups as fitting within the high clinical risk category. Staff can however return to work with those who would be deemed low risk clinically. Social care or care home staff members who are unable to be vaccinated for clinical reasons should not return to work for what would have been their 10 day self-isolation period.

Where a staff member declines a PCR test, they should self-isolate for 10 days. Where a staff member declines daily LFD testing then they should not work in any clinical setting during the isolation exemption period. In this case, staff can be redeployed to another one (e.g. administrative, which does not involve any contact with clients).


Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

First published: 26 Jul 2021 Last updated: 24 Sep 2021 -