With the removal of Spain including the Balearic, Canary islands from the list of countries which were exempt for returning travellers to self-isolate by The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) this undoubtedly has implications for Employers and your Employees.
This comes following the Spanish health minister reported a spike of 971 infections on the previous week this being the largest since increase since the lockdown was eased, it then followed the announcement by Boris Johnson who suspended the air-bridge agreement with Spain and reimposed the restrictions on returning travellers.
This announcement comes with the requirement for many who are returning as they need to stay at home, they will not be able to return to the workplace for 14 days after they return or they risk a £1K fine for breaching the quarantine rules. We look at the legal options for you the Employer.
What are the implications for you the Employer?
Where your Employee can work from home and you have the capacity to allow this it would be the best option to offer this and with this they would receive normal payment, where it is not feasible for them you would need to look at alternatives.
What about SSP Entitlements?
SSP regulations were amended in March this was for the provision of ‘isolating from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease, this is in accordance with guidance published by Public Health England’.
The guidance on Coronavirus SSP Eligibility states ‘Employees will not qualify for SSP if they are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason’.
To be eligible for SSP any Employee you have returning from Spain would fall into the categories below:
- They are showing symptoms of Coronavirus
- Are ill with Coronavirus
- Living with someone who is ill with or has symptoms of Coronavirus or
- They been notified by the relevant authorities that they have been in contact with someone with Coronavirus
What alternatives can you offer your Employees?
Where you have the capacity, you could offer your Employee to take additional annual leave, in this instance you would make full payment to your Employee.
In the event your Employee has no annual leave to take you should offer unpaid leave, your Employee would need to be advised they would receive no payment in this instance.
The Government stance
Having listened to Dominic Raab who has said that Employees ‘should not be penalised for this’ it is a tricky one for Employers who are under increasing financial difficulty too, our suggestion would be to err on the side of caution, as indicated in the SSP rules they are clear and exclude travellers returning to the UK.
With that in mind should the Government change the SSP rules, that would be another story…
What further advice can offer you?
We suggest that you communicate your stance in relation to annual leave payments and in the event, you intend not to make payment you inform your team. We also suggest you issue guidance for SSP payments advising your team of the rules surrounding eligibility.
It is advisable to document your team holidays and travel plans for the foreseeable future to ensure you avoid and unnecessary or potential claims.
It is important that where your Employee has travelled for work purposes they are not left at detriment and in this event, they should be paid in full for their self-isolation period.
We suggest you treat your Employees fairly and consistently to alleviate HR matters and potential claims further down the line.
We are aware keeping abreast of HR and Employment Law matters can be time consuming should you need any assistance please contact us at: [email protected] or 01254 467156