This past week the Government announced that Spain is no longer included in the "air bridges" list and for the 600,000 British holidaymakers who were in Spain at that time it means that they now have to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the UK.
It was unexpected for many, no doubt. Nonetheless, this is the guidance and it must be followed by individuals. It therefore means that many people cannot return to work after their holidays and that is most likely to affect those in the retail and hospitality industries, for example, who cannot perform their jobs from home.
An example is employees of Greggs, who will now discover that that Roger Whiteside, the Chief Executive of the chain, has announced during BBC Radio 5 live interview that employees forced to quarantine on returning from holiday will not be paid by the chain for those 14 days.
It is important to note that what Mr Whiteside has stated, and what other employers may well do as well, is not against the law. Workers returning from holiday and required to quarantine are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay ("SSP") or any other statutory leave. This is aligned with the end of the shielding period which will see those shielding being more likely to returning to the workplace and therefore not being entitled to SSP either if they do not feel able / comfortable to return to work.
So what options do employees have?
Employers are very much encouraged to take positive steps to support employees who have taken some annual leave and went on holiday in trying to find workaround. The obvious option will be to explore how these employees can work from home where possible, or if not possible then perhaps it would be a matter of agreeing a period of unpaid leave, or extended annual leave period for those employees. Another option may even be giving alternative tasks to those employees so that they are still carrying out work that is helpful and useful for the business but they are doing so from home and not in the capacity of their usual role.
As we can see, things are ever-changing and so it is recommended to have those conversations between employers and employees before workers go on holidays. Employers may want to consider having a policy in place with regards to these circumstances, in case Spain would not be the only country to come off the "air bridges" list on very short notice.
Of course, our expert employment team continue to be available to advise and explore options with employers and employees so please do contact us if you require some advice or support.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.