Following the sudden announcement by the Government that coming home from Spain on holiday will involve 2 weeks in quarantine or facing a £1000 fine, what did this mean for jobs, getting paid and taking holiday at all in 2020?
Like with lockdown, this affects everyone differently. For employees working from home, quarantining post Spain may be less of an issue. But for others, when your employer is expecting you to be back at work after your break, this is problematic.
Being in quarantine without COVID symptoms means you are not ill which rules out sick pay. At the same time, you are not turning up to work albeit for a very good reason and doing the right thing. So there is nothing to stop your employer from withholding pay at present in this situation.
Whilst the government is suggesting that employers show flexibility, if this is the same flexibility shown by some employers requiring employees to return to their desks following the relaxation of lockdown, there is cause for concern. Accepted that the government felt the need to act quickly on imposing post Spain quarantine, but laws do not get made at the same speed and the impact on employees hits hard. This at a time when there is much job uncertainty and a real need for employees to have a rest and take a holiday.
Taking holiday could be an option but who wants to use up valuable holiday days for taking a holiday in the first place and what if you do not have enough holiday left to take or your employer won’t approve your holiday request? The thought of employers cancelling holidays to avoid quarantine issues on getting back home or dissuading employees from taking holiday at the moment feels all wrong. After all the minimum holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations was born out of health and safety law. Health and wellbeing would seem important in a pandemic, in the same way as the government’s new drive to tackle obesity by encouraging cycling.
Could you really be dismissed for not turning up to work on getting back from holiday because you are quarantining?
Employers need a fair reason and to have followed a fair process before dismissing you where you have unfair dismissal rights after two years of service. Not turning up for work could be a fair reason for dismissal but I would like to think that
Employment Tribunals would not consider dismissal a reasonable reaction by an employer for this group of employees currently in Spain and finding out about needing to quarantine on their holiday. If you are heading off on holiday though to a country where quarantine on returning is required, better to have a contingency plan. Cue cancelled holiday and more staycations in Summer 2020 with August around the corner.
The above is accurate as at 28 July 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.