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How 14 day mandatory quarantine could impact your business

By Chris Dawson July 27, 2020 - 4:03 pm

It’s not to have noticed the headlines regarding the reintroduction of the 14 day mandatory quarantine for people travelling to the UK from Spain. Regardless which of the four UK nations you reside in, if you have been to Spain then you’ll be required to spend a fortnight at home, not going out for any reason including shopping or walking the dog. By the time you get back to work to show off your holiday tan it will be long faded!

Whilst this is a crippling blow for the travel industry it’s also a concern for employers. If you have staff considering a summer holiday, make sure when they put their holiday request in you make them aware of the potential (or actual) mandatory quarantine impositions and the fact that if they are quarantined then they won’t be getting paid… unless you’re a very generous employer.

The main problem with the reintroduction of a mandatory quarantine for travellers from Spain is that it happened so quickly. Those who had already taken the risk of a summer holiday will now be paying the price upon their return, unless they squeaked back into the UK before the 00.01am Sunday deadline.

The imposition of mandatory quarantine on travel from Spain opens the door to which other countries might be put on the black list? It’s now obvious that just because travel to a country is allowed it doesn’t mean it’s risk free – and not just the risk of infection from being shut in a plane with 300 random people, but the risk that your movements will be restricted between the bedroom and living room.

Where this leaves you as an employer is to consider whether your employee due to return back to work can work from home. In some roles this may be possible but if it’s someone due to be undertaking work such as picking and packing orders then obviously this isn’t going to fly. If you have employees going on holiday anywhere outside the UK then have an emergency plan in place if they aren’t able to return to work – on-demand staffing businesses like Coople can help.

Do quarantiners get sick pay?

This then begs the question of what happens to employees wages if they have a 14 day mandatory quarantine. If you are self isolating due to possible Coronavirus symptoms in the UK then normally you would be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. However, if you are in quarantine because you’ve chosen to return from a country where there isn’t a travel arrangement (or it was cancelled while you were away), then you aren’t eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. Having booked a 10 day holiday, you might be left requesting an emergency 14 day unpaid leave from work.

Naturally for many, 14 days without pay just after they’ve spunked their savings on holiday is going to be crippling. Some employers may allow the mandatory quarantine to be taken as an extended holiday, but having had a fortnight off work most people won’t have enough holiday left for the year. Ultra generous employers might pay their employees to stay at home and do nothing, but that’s unlikely for most and especially unlikely if you are hourly paid.

It’s natural to want a summer holiday, especially on a year where there’s been so much disruption to our normal lives. However, the risks are piling up. Whilst it’s your employee’s decision on whether to travel overseas this year, as an employer make sure you have plans in place to protect your business and trained staff ready to take over should the need arise.

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