We got the green light! When the Government gave us all the big thumbs up that we could start going on holidays outside of the UK and not have to self-isolate when we got back, the first thing lots of us did was book a holiday to Spain. Well…on Saturday things changed.
How does this affect me and my employees?
The Government announced on Saturday that anyone who was returning from mainland Spain, the Canary Islands, or the Balearic Island from Sunday 26th July, would need to self-isolate for 14 days. The reason they did this is due to an increase in the number of Coronavirus cases in Spain.
This means that you may have employees who are now being told that they need to self-isolate when they come back off their holidays.
Can my employees still go on holiday to Spain?
Short answer is yes. But, the current advice is that they self-isolate for 14 days after they return to the UK.
How do I deal with a self-isolating employee?
Due to the quick decision to introduce these restrictions, some employees may already be on holidays, so you can’t have the conversation with them before they go about what happens with the period of self-isolation. Announcing now that employees aren’t going to get paid is going to go down like a lead balloon. Bear in mind that this decision was only just made and done while they were already in the country.
Firstly, can your employee work from home? If they can, then job done! There’s your fix. They can self-isolate at home for 14 days and still be able to work. If they can’t do their normal job from home, what about something else? It’s time to start thinking outside of the box and look at what your business could benefit from and also help your employee to receive their normal pay.
If working from home is really not an option, and you can afford to do it, you can decide to pay these employees. They did follow the rules and booked a holiday in a country where there were no restrictions when they came home, but that changed while they were out there.
Alternatively, you could agree with them that they take a period of annual leave or unpaid leave.
They will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) under the current regulations, unless they are showing signs of Coronavirus.
What can I do in future?
We would suggest that you make a decision now about how you would want to deal with any situation like this going forward. At the moment, the Government is having to be quite reactive and put restrictions in place as soon as they are given the data showing that there’s been an increase in Coronavirus cases in specific countries. This may mean that at any point another country can be added to the list at short notice.
So, if your employees have picked another country off the ‘safe’ list to go on holidays, but while they are out there, the rules change, what are you going to do? Deciding this now and communicating it to all of your employees will help you in the long run.
If you are saying that if another short notice restriction comes in, you expect people to work from home, then tell everyone this. If you expect them to take unpaid leave or annual leave, or a combination of both, then this needs to be made clear now.
For more information about which countries you can go to without having to self-isolate, you can see this here (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors)