Critical Workers Exemption

Some businesses that provide vital public services can apply for staff working in critical roles to be exempt from self-isolating, in limited circumstances. Businesses must be able to demonstrate that staff shortages are in danger of putting essential functions and services at risk, like food distribution and transport.

Full details can be viewed on the Scottish Government website a summary of the key details is available here.


You can apply for an exemption if your business or organisation:

  • meets the definition of a Critical National Infrastructure
  • is impacted by staff shortages as a direct result of self-isolation requirements
  • has a critical service which is at imminent risk due to the staff shortage
  • has exhausted all other options to address pressures on operations

Key Criteria

There are a number of criteria which must be met before a staff member who is a close contact of a positive case can return to work. They must:

  • have had their second COVID-19 vaccination more than 14 days before
  • have a vaccine certificate to show they are fully vaccinated
  • not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have evidence of a negative PCR test
  • take daily lateral flow tests for up to 10 days after being exposed to the virus
  • fully comply with any PPE requirements, hand hygiene and other infection control measures

Application Process

Businesses should email to request an exemption. This email should demonstrate or explain that the business meets all the relevant criteria, the impact of self-isolation on its operations, what steps have already been taken, and the scope of the requested exemption.

Please make sure to check the full details and criteria on the Scottish Government website before applying for an exemption.