This week we saw popular holiday destinations, Poland and Turkey added to the countries that have been on a air corridor list, but are now considered countries you have to quarantine for 14 days on your return to England and Scotland. The deadline set by the Government as to when you had to have returned was 4 a.m. on Saturday and we learned about this development on Thursday tea time.
So can an employer prevent someone coming to work who has got back before an air corridor has closed?
Yes, but it will be expensive.
You see if your employee has travelled in good faith to a country on the air corridor list then found themselves required to quarantine for 14 days when they get to the UK, you and them will be hugely disapointed but understand that this is one of those things. If you can let them work from home, great, if not and they do not have further holiday to take, they will be on authorised unpaid leave.
If your employee travels to a country not on an air corridor and has to quarantine on their return, you have the right to be mighly cheesed off and their absence will be unauthorised unpaid leave.
If your employee gets back before the country becomes a country you have to quarantine from, you have to recognise that they have done nothing wrong. They have travelled in good faith to their destination, they have been able to return to the UK before the requirement for them to quarantine comes into place. If you now decide you feel you don’t want them to come to work, you can’t make them take further leave. Under the Working Time Regulations employers have to give double the amount of time as notice as the time they want someone to take as fixed holiday. For example; 4 weeks notice to take a 2 weeks leave break.
You equally can’t tell them that they are to take unpaid leave. They have done nothing wrong and you excluding them from the workplace is likely to be an unlawful deduction from wages and if part time or they have another protected charactertistic, a claim for less favourable treatment or direct discrimination.
If you want someone to not be in work, you have to pay them to stay at home. That said you still risk that they will be upset that you have prevented them from working and will seek legal advice.
If you need any assistance with any aspect of managing employees during the Coronavirus pandemic, please do not hesitate to call us on 01527 909436.