UK nationals returning from certain countries must now self-isolate for 14 days in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. France, the Netherlands and Malta were recently added to the quarantine list, along with Spain and several other locations.
In some cases, UK residents were already on holiday in the affected countries when the quarantine rules were brought in. So what if you are affected by an unplanned quarantine and can't go back to work on your return home?
We talked to employment law consultant, Enrique Garcia from ELAS about workers' rights in the event of self-isolation.
Usual sick pay applies
Companies are entitled to utilise typical sick pay rules in the event of an employee self-isolating, meaning they would have no right to any pay or sick pay.
Garcia explains, "If an employee is off sick with coronavirus usual sick pay applies, SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) or company sick pay dependent on if the company offers such a scheme. If an employee is not sick but is self-isolating there is no right to any pay or sick pay."
Discretion is required from both parties, according to Garcia, who notes that employees might want to use annual leave, while employers may wish to offer self-isolating employees unpaid leave.
He notes that it would be in the best interest of the company to offer paid leave in order to prevent the worker from coming into work and spreading the virus "if it is later shown that they're infected."
Absence could lead to disciplinary action
Employers who wish to exercise caution and ask employees who have visited high-risk regions to self-isolate are obliged to continue paying their employee "with full pay."
On the other hand, "if an employee is refusing to attend work because they're worried about catching coronavirus this should be handled with the usual absence management procedures." Doing so could lead to disciplinary action.
He notes that this would be harsh, depending on the circumstances, and that, in some situations, unpaid leave, working from home, or annual leave should be offered.