Travel Restrictions – What Does This Mean For You And Your Employee?

September 1, 2020

What should we do if our employee goes on holiday and is required self-isolate upon their return?

The employee should follow the Governments advice and self-isolate, this means they will be unable to return to the office or visit any client premises for the required self-isolation period. However, you can request that your employee continues to work from home providing that this is possible.

How long does an employee have to self-isolate for after returning from holiday abroad?

If an employee returns to the UK from a country that is not currently on the Governments exemption list sometimes referred to as the travel corridor, then they will have to self-isolate for 14 days following their return.

If an employee returns from a country on the Governments exemption list, then they will not have to self-isolate upon their return. However, if the employee is returning from a country on the exempt list but within the last 14 days they have previously been in a country that is not on the exempt list then they will have to self-isolate for 14 days minus the amount of time they have spent in the “exempt” country. For example, if a person has spent 10 days in an exempt country but they travelled there from a non-exempt country upon their return to the UK they will have to isolate for 4 days.

You should advise your employees to ensure they are aware of any restrictions that may affect them and to keep themselves up to date on any changes that may impact their travel plans.

Do I need to pay my employee if they are required to self-isolate upon returning to the UK?

There is no requirement for you to pay your employee if they are required to self-isolate upon returning to the UK following a period of annual leave and they cannot work from home and therefore this time can be unpaid.

You may want to take their situation into account, for example, were they aware that they would need to self-isolate upon their return when they left for their holiday? Or was the county they were visiting added to the list of countries by the Government during the course of their holiday and therefore the situation was beyond their control? This may dictate whether or not you consider paying them for the time in which they have to self-isolate. Equally there is no requirement for you to do so.

You may also want to consider whether there are any alternatives to the time being unpaid such as allowing or requiring them to use some of their remaining annual leave entitlement if they have any or possibly agreeing to the time being partially paid.

Do we need to pay our employee furlough pay if they are having to self-isolate upon returning to the UK?

There is no requirement to pay employees furlough if they return from a country which the UK Government requires them to self-isolate. This would be at the company’s discretion, but if you do it for one employee it may be hard to argue a case if you refuse to do it for another employee, although you may decide to base your decision on the specifics of each individual case

Be aware that you will only be able to do this for employees that have previously been furloughed. You may want to consider whether or not you chose to do this as it could be seen as unfair on any employee who has continued to work throughout the pandemic and therefore does not have the option of being considered for furlough to cover a period of self-isolation.

Should we pay the employee SPP if they are required to self-isolate upon returning to the UK?

Employees are not entitled to receive SSP during this period, if they are unable to work from home and having the time as paid or partially paid or as furlough is not an option or the company has decided against this, this period will be unpaid leave.

What should the company do if the employee is returning from holiday and doesn’t need to self-isolate, but they have Coronavirus symptoms?

The employee along with their household must self-isolate immediately and request a Coronavirus test, they must wait for their tests results before returning to work. If the results are negative the employee can return to work, if the results are positive the employee will be required to self-isolate for at least 14 days from the start of the symptoms If, at the end of the 10 days the employee still has any of the following; high temperature or feeling hot and shivery, a runny nose or sneezing, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea they must not return to work until the symptoms have stopped. If the employee has diarrhoea or is being sick they must stay at home until 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped.

The employee must inform the company of this and follow the normal absence reporting procedure.

During this time the employee is entitled to receive SPP.

Can we cancel an employee holiday if they are planning on going to a high risk area?

The employee needs to frequently check the Government website for any updates and travel advice.

Employers can cancel the employees annual leave, but they must provide them with notice at least the same length as the annual leave they have requested.

Requests to avoid travel and not attend work should apply to all staff regardless of ethnicity or nationality.

If the employee is at a financial loss because the employer has cancelled their holiday, then the employer should consider offering financial compensation.

Can we ask employees to disclose where they are going on their annual leave?

The employer can ask the member of staff to disclose where they are going on holiday. However, the employee can’t be held at threat of disciplinary action should they not want to disclose this information.

Can an employee cancel their annual leave?

  • The employer, if they wish can grant an employees request to cancel annual leave but this should be confirmed in writing by both parties. If the annual leave is cancelled the employee is can take their leave at another time within the next two annual leave years.
  • Employers can insist the employee to continue to take their annual leave as scheduled. A reason the employer may want to do this if they have already arranged cover and associated costs.

Due to recent amendments to the Working Time Directive regulations 1998, (amended to The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020) with the employer’s agreement the employee can carry over a maximum of 4 weeks leave can be carried over to the following two leave years.

Can an employee go on a cruise ship holiday?

The Government have advised against all travel on cruise ships.


This post is in: Coronavirus