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14 Day Quarantine – Employers Responsibilities

If an employee wants to travel to a country that isn’t on the governments travel corridor list for a holiday, they will need to self isolate for 14 days on their return.

Travel corridors are countries that you can travel to without having to self-isolate on your return to the UK. The government regularly update the list, sometimes leaving very short notice.

In England, people who return from a country that is not on the travel corridor list must self isolate for at least 14 days. (Please note, there may be differences in Scotland, Wales and Northern Island.)

If an employee can work from home, the 14 day quarantine period shouldn’t be a problem. However if the employee is unable to work from home, employers might be tempted to refuse the holiday request. Although, refusing the holiday request on the basis that the quarantine period can’t be accommodated may cause other problems.

For example, where an employee is unable to take their statutory minimum holiday due to reasons related to coronavirus, they now have the right to carry that leave forward for up to two years.

Rather than refusing the holiday and quarantine period request, what the employer’s can do is explain why they can’t accommodate the request and offer any options available.

Where an employee must self-isolate and can’t work during the quarantine period, they’ve no right to receiving sick pay. There is also no right to receive statutory sick pay during the 14 day quarantine period.

Assuming the employee has enough annual leave to cover the holiday and quarantine period, they could use this. If they don’t, you could agree to a period of unpaid leave, or a mixture of that and annual leave – do not allow the employee to use holiday entitlement from the next holiday year.

 

Under thie track and trace scheme, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus will be contacted immediately and asked to voluntary self-isolate for 14 days from with immediate effect.

If an employee is contacted and asked to self-isolate, providing that they can work from home, this shouldn’t be a problem, however there are other options.

If the employee doesn’t have symptoms and can’t work from home, they will be entitled to SSP for the duration of the 14 day period. If you employee fewer than 250 people, you can reclaim this payment from HMRC. Please find more information on reclaiming SSP here.

As the request to self-isolate is voluntary, people who are not showing any symptoms may chose to continue to work as normal rather than receive the SSP, which is currently paid at a rate of £95.85pw and most likely a lot less than employees would usually be paid for a normal working week.

The risk with this is that even if the employee isn’t showing any symptoms, their presence could potentially put your workplace and other staff members at risk. To encourage self-isolation you could offer the employee to take annual leave on full pay or a mixture of SSP and annual leave.

Alternatively, you could pay the employee in full for the isolation period, just be aware that this approach would need to be applied to all employee’s who are contacted through track and trace.

The only instance in which you should honor the 14 day quarantine period regardless, is if you have asked the employee to travel to a country that isn’t on the travel corridor list – in this situation you would be obliged to pay them their full salary.

 

You can find more information on the above on the government website.

Adderley Hill & Co Team

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