Quarantine following an overseas holiday – Do I have to pay an employee?

August 20, 2020

We are in the midst of a fast-changing picture when it comes to overseas travel and the newly announced need to self-isolate upon return from designated countries raises yet more concerns for those who have opted to take a much-needed holiday.

There has perhaps never been a time when so many people have felt like ‘getting away from it all’ but taking a break outside of the UK could potentially lead to problems if we are unable to return to work for a further 2 weeks after the holiday ends.

Under normal circumstances there may be an argument for living with the consequences of our own actions, however for many the decision to go abroad was based on information which changed during their holiday. Consequently, the additional 14 day quarantine period was not something which had been factored in to ‘time off calculations’.

If your employee finds themselves in this position they will undoubtedly have many questions. We have tried to address at least some of these here:

Payment during this self-isolation period:

Sadly, there is no guarantee that an employee will get paid. Whilst Statutory Sick Pay applies to other types of self-isolation, it doesn’t apply here unless they have symptoms of Coronavirus (or need to self-isolate for other reasons).

Can they work from home during this quarantine?

Yes, provided that they are able to perform their work duties from home and that you, as their employer, agree to the arrangement. Organisations have to be careful to treat all employees in a uniform manner and must be mindful of those unable to work remotely, so there is no guarantee that home working will be supported.

If they can’t work from home could they be furloughed instead?

The furlough scheme has specific qualifying criteria which must be met so it depends totally on what has happened to previously. For example, you must have already been furloughed for at least 3 weeks between March and the end of June.

Will they have to take unpaid leave?

This is certainly an option which you, as the employer, could take, and many organisations have seen it as a good solution to cope with this unprecedented situation, allowing them to treat all employees in the same way.

If an employee is due to go to a country requiring quarantine can I make them cancel?

Theoretically, yes, although you must act within reason to avoid claims of unfair dismissal should they resign as a result. The law allows employers to cancel leave that has previously been authorised provided that they give you a suitable period of notice (equivalent to the length of the holiday itself).

Want to know more?

At CoLaw we pride ourselves in providing practical, tailored advice to businesses and people and we are happy to assist with any aspect of the ‘new normal’ we all find ourselves having to navigate. If you feel you could benefit from speaking with one of our world-class practitioners simply get in touch or visit http://colaw.co.uk. Even if you are currently on holiday and want to take the right steps now, we can help you make your return to work as smooth as possible.

The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.