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Holiday quarantine rules and employment law guide for employers
- AuthorSusan Mayall
Employers with staff returning from a holiday in quarantine restricted countries now face the whole host of employment law issues as staff have to self-isolate.
With Spain, France and Croatia all now on the quarantine list and other popular destinations such as Greece braced for potential changes to the air bridge ruling the carefree two weeks in the sun is now proving to be a big headache for employees and employers.
Schools going back usually signifies an end to the family holiday season, but the start of holidays and late breaks for those not confined to term dates many of whom include employees and workers across a wide variety of businesses.
What should I pay employees who are required to self-isolate after a holiday?
Staff who book a holiday knowing that they have to self isolate on return and cannot work from home are not entitled to wages nor SSP for the self-isolation period. Their inability to work is voluntary, they chose a holiday and as they are not ill they are not entitled to SSP - unless of course they report symptoms on return.
With regards to staff who booked a holiday before self-isolation requirements, they may be able to argue that their inability to work is involuntary, but as this is a new situation as yet there is no case law.
Employees can take this time as unpaid leave, or as an extension to their holidays.
Will I be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) returning from a holiday?
Advice from the Government is that employees are not entitled to statutory sick pay if they’re self-isolating after returning to the UK, but at the same time the Government is asking employers to be flexible and not penalise their staff for following the 14 day quarantine rules. In reality that could mean taking an extra 2 weeks holiday to cover quarantine, or unpaid leave meaning no income for 2 weeks.
“There is no automatic entitlement to statutory sick pay for the quarantine period when staff members have to self-isolate, obviously if an employee can work from home remotely, as many have been doing for months, this is not a problem, but for those who need to be in the workplace this is a major issue for both employees and employers alike,” said Susan Mayall, Head of Employment Law at Pearson Solicitors.”
“The decision to include France recently took many by surprise but businesses can to some extent get policies in place now for the rest of summer of 2020, at least then staff know the risks they face if they opt for a holiday in a quarantine zone.
“Some employers could cancel leave (within the appropriate time periods) if an extended period of absence by a staff member would be detrimental to their company, but I would say this is a very extreme circumstance and hopefully could be resolved in a more amicable way,” she added.
Employment Rights, Quarantine and Self-Isolation:
- Employees are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for self-isolation period, but it can be paid at the employer’s discretion.
- Annual leave may be requested to cover quarantine (14 days).
- Employers could put the staff member on furlough for the quarantine period, however the employee would have to have been furloughed for at least 3 weeks prior to 10th June
- Working from home can continue if applicable.
- Unpaid leave
Self-isolation following a trip to an exempt country is mandatory in criminal law. The fine for not self isolating is £1,000 and includes not going to work, school, public areas, public transport, taxis and not having visitors unless they are providing essential support.
“Communication with staff is essential during these unprecedented times,” advised Susan. “I would urge employers to see if anything can be done at all to accommodate those staff caught out by the travel chaos, but if you are self-employed there is limited help available.”
New countries affected by the Quarantine rules are regularly being updated on https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors