Employers face quarantine dilemma over staff returning from Spain
Published on Monday, July 27, 2020
There is no legal requirement for employers to pay staff who are self-isolating after returning from a country on the government’s quarantine list – and some staff face losing their jobs, which could mean more people will cancel holidays rather than risk being out of pocket.
Abigail Maino, Senior Associate at city law firm DMH Stallard, said: “Most employers will no doubt be sympathetic to this sudden change in government policy and its unexpected impact on employees, but many employers will not be in a position to pay employees for 14 days if they are in roles which cannot be undertaken from home.
“Dominic Raab’s statement that employees cannot be dismissed or penalised if they quarantine for 14 days is not underpinned by law in certain circumstances.
“For example, those with under two years’ service do not qualify for unfair dismissal rights and some employers may decide to dismiss if those individuals cannot attend work for 14 days and cannot work from home.
“If individuals do not have symptoms of Covid-19 or any other illness then they will not be entitled to statutory sick pay or, in the vast majority of cases, company sick pay.
“This unfortunately leaves employers in a position where, if roles cannot be undertaken from home, they must decide whether to exercise their discretion to pay employees who are quarantining, and the rate of any such pay, whilst being mindful of any future changes to air bridges and the impact of setting a precedent now with regard to quarantine pay.
“The unknown and changing landscape means that many employers will be having difficult conversations with employees returning from Spain about unpaid leave, in circumstances where those employees may feel the government’s message should provide them with additional entitlements.”