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Travel Quarantine - Dealing with employees returning to the UK

If I was to ask Alexa to provide me with an example of bolting the stable door, it would likely relay the Government’s 14 day quarantine for individuals arriving in the UK from 8 June 2020.

Almost as soon as the introduction of the self-imposed quarantine was announced in parliament, we started receiving queries as to how employers would deal with employees coming into the UK who had to spend 14 days in quarantine. Whilst the Government have been limited in the information provided to employers, we have attempted to answer some of the key questions below.

How will the process work?

Certain individuals, including UK nationals entering the UK from 8 June 2020 will be required to give their home details/accommodation details upon returning to the country. Individuals will be expected to self-isolate at that accommodation for a period of 14 days on arrival. Random spot checks will be carried out and a fine of up to £1,000 can be handed down for breaching the isolation rules.

Can I ask employees to work during the 14 day self-isolation period?

Yes, if the employee can carry out work from home then you can ask them to carry out their role at home. You should not request that the employee attends the workplace or visits sites or clients during the 14 days.

Should employees be paid during the self-isolation period?

If the employee can work from home, they should be paid in full in accordance with their contract of employment.

If the employee is unable to work from home, then arguably they are not ready and available for work and there is no requirement to pay them.

What about Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

At the time of writing, the Government has not updated the provisions to allow those self-isolating following a return to the country to be entitled to SSP. This may change and employers are encouraged to keep this point under review.

Are there any other options for employees?

Employees can opt to take a further period of annual leave during their self-isolation period to ensure that they maintain an income for the 14 day period. There is, however, conflicting opinion as to whether employers can enforce annual leave in such circumstances as it is unlikely that such leave meets the “rest and relaxation” requirements of the legislation.

Employers are of course entitled to pay employees for the period of self-isolation should they wish. This will likely be required in scenarios such as where employees return after a work trip or where travel is a part of their employment.

There are a number of exceptions to the 14 day self-isolation requirements and employers should familiarise themselves with these exceptions and the rules in general by visiting the link here.


These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.


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