As lockdown is slowly lifted and the restrictions on travel begin to ease, employers will need to consider how to effectively manage employees that need to quarantine following their annual leave.
This is because employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business. To achieve this, employers are required to do whatever is reasonably practicable, including ensuring that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause them harm and controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.
The impact of quarantine on the workplace has become more prevalent as international travel resumes. In particular, following the recent developments regarding holidaymakers in Spain, one key concern for employers is in relation to the reliance of “air bridges”. Whilst, the government has introduced a number of “air bridges” between various countries, so as to avoid the imposition of quarantine measures, employers will need to be mindful of how they will manage this in the workplace especially as quarantine requirements are subject to change.
In anticipation, employers will need to carefully balance the health and safety of those returning from annual leave and those working on the employer’s premises. This can be achieved with various policies that will help employers manage those returning from annual leave, irrespective of whether they have travelled via an “air bridge”. Examples of useful policies, to manage employees required to quarantine, include: -
- imposing additional quarantine measures (even for those travelling to countries with “air bridges”);
- encouraging working from home arrangements following a period of annual leave where this is suitable;
- requiring the use of paid/unpaid leave or statutory sick pay (subject to eligibility) for those returning from a period of annual leave; or
- requiring Covid-19 testing prior to returning to the premises.
These policies will need to be clearly and concisely communicated with staff and may involve amending existing policies such as maximum holiday durations, booking annual leave or disciplinary or capability procedures (especially in the event of unauthorised absences where employees should have been aware of imposed quarantine measures) and working from home policies.
Our employment team can assist you draft or amend policies to effectively manage staff who may need to quarantine following a period of annual leave.
If you need assistance or advice on the contents of this article, please contact Thackray Williams LLP who have set up a FREE Legal Advice Line to businesses and employees in the wake of COVID-19. Do get in touch on 020 8663 4127 if you wish to discuss this matter in more detail or require any further advice.