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Govt Update: Employees Returning from Overseas

Following the recent government update regarding COVID-19 and returning from overseas, Think People Consulting would like to offer our community the following advice:

Employers should have a policy in place to clearly communicate to employees the implications of what may happen if they choose to travel to somewhere not on the safe list, e.g:

  • Ask employees to notify you if travelling abroad
  • Communicate the list of countries on the Government Safe List and discourage employees from travelling to any country not on the list. Usually an employer cannot dictate what an employee does in their private time, including how they spend annual leave. However, in present circumstances employers can discourage this.
  • Explain that they will have to quarantine for 14 days
  • Explain that they can’t enter the workplace
  • Explain that this will impact pay if can’t work from home and there are no alternative options for them to fulfil their role
  • Explain that reasonable investigations will be carried out if there is a suspicion an employee has been to a country not on the safe list

It is important to consider additional points that you may wish to include in your policy depending on the specifics of your workplace. For advice on updating handbooks and developing policies to best protect your organisation and staff through COVID-19, please contact info@thinkpeople.co.uk or +4428 9031 0450 for an informal chat.

FAQs:

What are the options for employers that have employees returning from holiday who need to self-isolate?
  • Working from Home (if not normally eligible to WFH could assign different duties that would facilitate WFH)
  • Unpaid Leave
  • Annual Leave
  • Back on furlough – There is some ambiguity and no express guidance on using the furlough scheme in this situation. Notwithstanding this, the employee would have to have been furloughed for period of 3 weeks prior to 10 June. This could cause issues if some employees returning from Spain had previously been furloughed and others had not.
  • Make up additional hours through overtime after quarantine ended
  • Standard Sick Pay – While the government have said that employees who are following the law by self-isolating should not have penalties taken against them, employers are not obligated to pay employees who are not able to work. Employees who are self-isolating are not entitled to Standard Sick Pay.
What is an employee who has been to Spain shows up at work anyway?

The employer is obligated to send them home immediately.

What if staff left for Spain before the new rules were introduced?

The same rules apply. You should stick to your policy and be consistent across the bar.

Can an employer ask an employee to quarantine if the location they have visited is on the safe list? (e.g. London)

If the employee is fit for work and not in breach of quarantine you do not have basis to refuse them entry to the workplace. You could ask the employee to work from home if possible, or look at other alternative arrangements.

What if someone within the employee’s household has been aboard?

There is not a requirement for an employee to quarantine if a member of their household has been to a country not on the safe list. However, the employee should be reminded of the need to maintain strict social distancing and hygiene practices.

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Cora Degan