The government recently announced that anyone returning from Spain and its islands from 26th July would have to self-isolate for two weeks.
As many people have already taken advantage of the eased restrictions by booking a holiday abroad, how should employers handle staff quarantine?
Our HR Consultancy team offer their guidance on fast-shifting requirements, where the key is to be as fair and flexible as possible.
Can holidaymakers to Spain claim Statutory Sick Pay?
No – employers are not obliged to pay employees when they are not working so this period of quarantine would be unpaid. For current holiday makers caught up in this announcement, the government has asked for employers to be understanding, dealing with each case individually so as to offer a creative solution.
What are the alternatives?
Here are some examples:
- If possible, the employee could work from home for the duration of the quarantine. If not, explore if there is anything else they could be doing remotely which would benefit the company to enable them to stay on their normal pay
- They could use outstanding annual leave
- You could agree a reduced payment for the duration of the quarantine
- You might allow employees to “purchase” annual leave to cover the period of isolation to be paid back over a 12-month period
Make preparations for similar scenarios
Spain may just be the first example, so it’s wise to send out a policy statement a soon as possible to all employees who have plans or may be planning to go abroad. It’s clear that the rules can change at very short notice, and if that does happen going forward, employees need to be aware of how periods of quarantine will be dealt with. This way, employees know the risks if they choose to travel abroad beforehand and can make an informed decision based on their options.
The Covid-19 pandemic is an ongoing situation, so employers need to amend their policies, including their annual leave policy. Authorisation of holiday requests need to be considered in light of the possible extension to any “time off” incurred as a result of mandatory quarantine.
The potential for two weeks to become four weeks reduction in cover could be problematic for employers, affecting both productivity and increased workload for the other employees. This needs to be avoided and at the very least planned for.
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