Following my article of 10 June 2020 which detailed the Government’s post-travel quarantine plan, a number of countries were announced as being exempt from the 14-day self-isolation upon a traveller’s return to the UK.
However, with fears of a ‘second wave’, the Government have again updated this list, affecting thousands of travellers returning to the UK from Spain and the Canary and Balearic Islands. The Department for Transport gave only around five hours’ notice of this change, with the Foreign Office now advising against all non -essential travel to Spain, including the islands.
The Government is yet to confirm the position with regards to pay and statutory sick pay (SSP) for employees returning to the UK from countries which are not exempt from the quarantine rules. The rules do not prevent employees from working if they can do so from home. If this is the case, employees self-isolating but working remotely should be paid in full in accordance with their employment contract.
As outlined in my previous article, for employees that are unable to work from home, employers should consider the following options:
- Unpaid leave
- Paid leave (forced or voluntary)
- If an employer chooses to enforce annual leave during this period, they must give double the notice they expect the employee to take as leave e.g. if an employer is requiring a period of 5 days leave, the employee must be given 10 days’ notice
The Government have called for employers to show ‘flexibility’ to employees who now have to self-isolate due to the sudden change in quarantine rules.
Whilst employees self-isolating in line with the Government guidance upon their return to the UK are not entitled to receive SSP, if an individual develops symptoms of coronavirus or contracts the virus itself, it is expected that they should receive SSP. However, this has not been confirmed by the Government.
As spikes in coronavirus cases are seen across the world, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that there is an “uncertainty” for individuals travelling over the summer, with further countries at risk of being removed from the list of exempt countries. It has been reported that Luxembourg is a concern, with Belgium being monitored closely. Although neither have been removed from the safe travel list at the time of this article, as we saw with Spain the situation can change very quickly. Cases are rising in several other countries in Europe, including France and Germany, so the situation may change again very soon.
We are receiving frequent calls about this, please contact Heyma Holmes or one of the team if you require an up to date position.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.