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Travel from Spain, quarantine periods and employee rights

News that travellers from Spain will now have to quarantine on their return to the UK for 14 days may cause difficulties for employers whose staff are currently on holiday or are planning on going to Spain or other countries, where similar restrictions may also be imposed at short notice in the future.

What are the employers responsibilities and their employees’ rights?

There is no statutory right to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if employees have been told to self-isolate for 14 days because they have returned from an overseas holiday.

Employers must minimise the risk that employees will be tempted to come into work rather than lose pay. If the job allows it then employees should have the opportunity to work from home on return from a holiday overseas.

Employers might also consider allowing unpaid time off, additional holiday leave or allowing the employee to use contractual sick leave to cover this self-isolation.

Employers should clarify and communicate their policies for all staff ahead of them taking holidays overseas this summer and beyond, so they are fully aware of company policy on this issue.

If an employee is contacted by the Government test and trace service, they must self-isolate for 14 days. Employees in self-isolation in this situation are eligible for SSP and need to follow the existing workplace sickness reporting process. Employees can self-certify for their first seven days off work and after that they can get an online self-isolation note.

Employees are entitled to time off work to help care for someone who is dependent on them in an unexpected event, so parents with young children could fall into this category. There is no statutory right to pay for this time and again employers should review and communicate to the workforce any internal policies so that everyone is aware of the rules.

Whilst many hoped the easing of the lockdown here in the UK and in other countries was a sign that life was returning to normal, the speed at which the new quarantine procedure has been reintroduced is a reminder that Coronavirus is still a significant risk.

Amanda Finn is a partner and can be contacted T: 01622 689700.