Frequently asked questions
Please find below a range of frequently asked questions for funeral firms about operating during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. If you have a question that is not answered here, please email email@example.com.
Are funeral directors able to apply for 'reasonable excuse provision' to attend work during self-isolation (England)?
Yes, under certain restricted circumstances. Please click here for all the details you need.
What should we do if an employee is contacted by Test and Trace following a contact during the course of their duties?
England: The NAFD has sought guidance, having been made aware of funeral home staff having to self-isolate through test and trace, as a result of contact which occurred during work-related activities.
As critical workers, if the contact occurred while an employee is carrying out their duties AND there are mitigations which make isolation unnecessary (e.g. the wearing of PPE) AND their absence would threaten service delivery within the business, we understand that the case can be referred for a 'Tier 1 assessment' with the local health protection team.
We have asked The Cabinet Office for this to be specifically documented in relation to funeral workers. However, until this happens, if you have a case which meets all of the above criteria, you should make reference to the following guidance for health and social providers:
"If a health or social care worker is considered to be a contact, and the recommendation for them to self-isolate would have implications for the provision of the service, their employer will need to escalate this for a risk- assessment to a Tier 1 contact tracer at the local Health Protection Team (HPT). Advice about whether a risk-assessment is needed may also be sought from the HPT.
"The risk-assessment should take account of any PPE use (including its type and situational appropriateness) and other mitigating factors that may reduce the risk of infection transmission to such an extent that the individual identified as a contact does not need to self-isolate."
Please note, this is ONLY to be used if the member of staff concerned is traced as a result of contact which occurred when they were carrying out their duties AND there are mitigations which make isolation unnecessary (e.g. the wearing of PPE) AND their absence threatens the ability of the business to remain operational.
This should NEVER be used for personal contact with infected persons outside the workplace or outside of the course of normal working duties.
England, Wales and Scotland
In Wales, face coverings remain a legal requirement indoors, with the exception of hospitality premises. In Scotland and in England they are recommended as a sensible precautionary measure.
Face coverings remain mandatory when entering and leaving a place of worship for a funeral service and it is strongly recommended that they are worn for the duration of the service, particularly when singing or moving around the premises.
Click here for the latest guidance in all four UK nations.
Funeral firms should follow the specific guidance for their part of the UK:
If the hospital does not remove the pacemaker prior to the funeral director taking the deceased person into their care, Public Health England guidance confirms that embalmers may undertake this procedure using the appropriate PPE. The British Institute of Embalmers has issued specific guidance on this process to its members and the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that funeral directors will be able to access PPE supplies through their local resilience forum. You can find your local forum by clicking here. However, we are aware that some funeral directors’ own policy is not to embalm or remove pacemakers from confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.
You should only make a report under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) when:
- an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.
- a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID 19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease.
- a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to Coronavirus.
FInd out more from the Health and Safety Executive here.
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