My Staff Are Quarantined - What Do I Do?

By April Harrington.
18 Aug 2020

An increasing number of countries are being added to the COVID quarantine list. Individuals who return from these areas are being asked to self-isolate for 14-days to reduce risks of spreading coronavirus.

As of August, places that fall into this bracket include France, Spain, and the Netherlands.

This list will continue to change as the situation develops. So what do you if staff are quarantined? Let’s find out…

Staff in Quarantine

Managing the situation

Staff cannot return to the office straight away, and so, you’ll need to take steps to manage the situation.

The first thing to consider is pay. You don’t have to pay staff normally unless you’ve already agreed otherwise. This includes statutory sick pay (SSP).

Beyond pay, there are many options to explore. For example, you could:

  • Place staff back on furlough, if they’re eligible
  • Permit staff to work remotely
  • Enforce a period of annual leave. (You’ll need to provide double the amount of notice as annual leave taken. For example, 1 week of annual leave will require 2 weeks’ notice).
  • Enforce a period of unpaid leave

The furlough option

You can only place staff on furlough if they have previously been furloughed before 10 June 2020.

However, it is possible to furlough staff for the first time if they weren’t furlough previously. The reason for this must be due to them being on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental, or parental bereavement leave. It’s also possible to furlough them if they return from active military service that began prior to 10th June and ended after this date.

My staff need to travel abroad…

If staff travel as part of their role, they could be at risk of self-isolating on their return. You need to assess whether these trips are necessary. Keep an eye on the quarantine list and stay up-to-date with which are under consideration.

If you decide a trip is necessary, try not to disadvantage your employees as a result. An employee who you expect to remain away from work without pay is likely to become very demotivated. This could damage the employment relationship. In rare cases, it could lead to a claim of constructive unfair dismissal.

You (and your staff) may find the quarantine rules frustrating. However, remember that they’re there to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Permitting staff to self-isolate may be temporarily inconvenient. However, you’ll damage your business much more if staff begin to show symptoms of COVID-19.

Expert support

Need support with a specific quarantine situation? Get fast, expert advice today by calling 01455 858 132.

About the Author

April Harrington.

An experienced Senior Employment Law Consultant, who has worked for the group for over 9 years. April specialises in discrimination legislation. April has an extensive background in training, as well as recruitment and hospitality.

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