If employees are returning to the UK from a country that is not listed as ‘exempt’ they will be required to self-isolate for the first 14 days when they return. Failure to do so can lead to fines of up to £1,000. This has brought complications for school leaders who are preparing to welcome staff back in September and are now thinking about holidays during the October half-term.
If schools do not wish to offer pay for those returning who would be subject to quarantine, then you would need to consider whether there are risks in respect of breach of contract or unilateral change to terms and conditions. Also consider if this approach to those who are quarantining is different to those who have presumably quarantined in the last 4 months and how they have been treated – were they paid as normal, put on sick pay, or not paid? There could be a practical employee relations angle to consider.
If an employee now books a holiday where they will knowingly need to quarantine upon return, and unable to work from home, then arguably they are not ‘ready and willing’ to work, so a period of unpaid leave may be justified on the basis it is a voluntary inability to work. We feel it is reasonable to ask employees not to book holidays to such destinations and you may wish to ask employees not to book travel to any country that has the potential to be put on the government’s quarantine list.
If an employee can work from home then we believe full pay should apply and the school should seek to get as much value from that colleague as possible during this period. This decision will be dependant on the role of the individual. We advise that when such circumstances arise you contact us to discuss the potential risk in further detail.
Up-to-date government guidance on can be found using the link below: