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Just as things started to get closer to ‘normal’ and some people were lucky enough to get away for their summer holiday another curve ball arrives.

 

The Government announced that holidaymakers returning from Spain and some Spanish Islands will need to self-isolate for 14 days and has further advised against all non-essential travel to Spain to include the Balearic and Canary Islands following a rise in coronavirus cases.

 

How Should Employers Manage Staff Returning From Holiday?

 

There is no legal requirement to give employees paid leave or paid sick pay for their 14-day isolation. However, employers may need to be creative or exercise their goodwill during these exceptional times alongside protecting their business and the rest of their staff.

 

No two businesses are the same and you will need to assess what your blanket policy will be from the outset.

 

Consider what could work for your business, for example:

 
  • Can your business afford to allow paid leave as an exception?
  • Can your business afford to pay employees at the same rate of Statutory Sick Pay?
  • Are you able to be flexible and offer them one-week paid and one-week sick pay?
  • Can they use extra holiday days from next year’s allowance?
  • Is the employee able to work from home during this 2-week period?
  • Is there other work that they can carry out remotely, if their job is not one that can be done from home (for example, a receptionist is unable to carry out their usual job from home but there may be some other administrative tasks they can do from home)?
  • Can you offer them overtime or extra shifts to make up their hours after their quarantine period finishes?
 

These are challenging times and the last 4 months have taught businesses a valuable lesson that flexibility and adaptability is key, especially when government guidance can change quickly.

 

If your business is not able to afford to pay staff who need to self-isolate for a further fortnight after their holiday, then you are not obliged to pay them.

 

It is good practice to make your policy clear on your company’s stance on pay and leave in relation to holidays and quarantine and remember that the same rules should apply to all members of your business. Consider refreshing your policies in-line with latest advice or send a communication round your workplace to inform staff of your company procedure should any employees need to isolate.

 

This way your employees are fully aware of the policy and consequences before they leave for their summer holiday.

 

Protecting Your Workforce

 

There is a risk that employees will return to the workplace when they should be in isolation out of fear of not being paid. Those who cannot afford to take unpaid leave or who are anxious of losing their jobs may try to return to the workplace.

 

This poses a risk to the workplace and the rest of your employees, so you must be vigilant and prevent this from happening.

 

Employers should keep a record of staff holidays, including destinations they have travelled to, remind staff of the policies in place, and keep up to date with the latest guidelines of countries on the quarantine list.

 

Keeping Staff Motivated

 

This has been an incredibly difficult time for many, and the escape of a sandy beach may be just what some of your employees need to keep them and their families going.

 

The 14-day self-quarantine is likely to put a dark cloud over people’s much longed-for breaks. Many will have their holidays cancelled once again or will decide not to travel this year. Think about what you can do as an employer during these challenging times to boost morale and keep your employees motivated.

 

With many businesses feeling the pinch, consider what you can do to make a difference that is not going to break the bank. Can you get the team together for a socially distanced picnic? Start an online quiz night? Are you able to offer an incentive or boost your team’s holiday for next year by offering them an extra day? Or perhaps give everyone a summer hamper gift?

 

Your employees should appreciate that times are hard for businesses too and working relationships now rely on understanding, trust, and open communication.

 

Getting Advice

 

If you are unsure on how to manage employee issues around coronavirus, holidays and sick leave then please get in touch with our pro-active Employment Law Team.

 

Call our office on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online chat assistant via the Lamb Brooks website.

   

Other articles you may be interested in reading:

What Employers Need to Note from the Mini Budget

Job Losses to Coronavirus Rise Rapidly

Employers Duties on the Mental Health of Their Staff

Returning to Work: Top 10 Tips

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.