Many employees will be wanting to travel abroad to get away or even see family that are overseas who they haven’t been able to see for a long period of time.  But, as we know from recent news the Government’s travel list of red, green and amber countries can change at fairly short notice meaning an employee may have booked to go to a green country but may then be required to self-isolate when the return.  What should you do if this is the case?

Be proactive and set expectations

Communicate that employees need to bear in mind that the country may change from green to amber which will require them to self-isolate so they need to be upfront and honest about what time that might mean they need off.  Encourage them to review and follow Government guidance.

If the employee is visiting a country on the red or amber list, then discuss whether the additional time off required can be accommodated. 

You could introduce a form for completion with details of holiday plans so that this can be discussed at the time of the holiday request.  Bear in mind that two weeks’ leave could turn into four weeks’ leave and if everybody then needs this time off it may not be possible.  You may need to consider first come, first served for instance. 

What will self-isolation or quarantine periods be paid as?

Consider unpaid leave, paid holiday or working from home if the role allows working from home.  Your approach might be a combination of some of those options.

What if leave and self-isolation/quarantine periods cannot be approved and continues to be absent?

You will want to make it clear that this would be classed as unauthorised absence as it has not been approved and could result in disciplinary action taken against them.  Obviously, you do not want to be encouraging employees to attend the workplace if they should be self-isolating but upon their return you can take action. 

What if an employee turns up to work when they should be self-isolating?

Send them home and discuss the reasons why they did this.  If they have not been honest about their holiday plans, investigate and decide on the appropriate course of action. 

Further guidance

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus