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What are the employer requirements when an employee is required to self isolate on return from holiday?

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The Government has created difficulties for both employers and employees this week, by changing the rules upon the requirement for travellers to quarantine on their return to the UK from Spain. Previously there had been no requirement to quarantine, but with just five hours’ notice the rules were changed to state that all returning travellers must now self-isolate for 14 days following their return.

What should an employer do when faced with an employee who has returned from Spain, or other country put under similar measures, and advised that they must now self-isolate for 14 days? There are a number of issues for an employer to consider in these circumstances as follows:

  • If the employee is not actually sick and is able to work from home, then the employer should consider asking the employee to work from home (if this is possible) during the period of self-isolation and if the employee is willing to do this, then the employer must continue to pay the employee as normal.
  • If the employee is unable or unwilling to work from home, the employer must not request the employee to come into the workplace to work. If the employee should attend the workplace, they must be sent home. It is a criminal offence for an employee to attend the workplace during the required period of self-isolation.
  • If the employee is unable or unwilling to work from home, then there is no obligation to pay the employee during the period of self-isolation. If the sole reason for the employee being unable to work is the requirement to self-isolate following a return to the UK from Spain, then there is also no entitlement for the employee to receive statutory sick pay, although the government is hopeful that employers may choose to pay this voluntarily.
  • If the employee is not entitled to be paid during the period of self-isolation, the employer may wish to consider whether it is prepared to relax its holiday policy and allow employees to take any remaining annual leave that they are entitled to during the self-isolation period, even if the employee can’t give the required period of notice to take such leave. This would enable the employee to receive normal pay during the period of annual leave taken.
  • If an employee, who is self-isolating, has previously been on a period of furlough leave for at least 3 consecutive weeks prior to 30 June 2020, it may be possible to place the employee on a further period of furlough leave for the duration of self-isolation.

Whatever course of action the employer is able and chooses to take, the reality is that the sudden change in regulations will have an impact upon both employers and employees alike, whether this is the impact upon the employer’s ability to run its business without disruption or the employee’s entitlement to receive salary.

If you have any questions about the above or any other employment issues, please contact our Employment Team on 0808 164 1510.

This article is written as a general guide and believed correct at the date of publication.  If you need further or more specific information relating to your situation, please get in touch with us.


Robert Cherry

robert cherry 

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