HR in the Hotseat: Is Your Organisation Ready to Manage Foreign Holiday Issues?

Foreign travel is hitting the headlines again following the government’s announcement yesterday that no new countries will be added to the foreign travel ‘green list’ and that Portugal will be moved to the ‘amber list’ on Tuesday requiring quarantine on return. This  may have got some employers thinking about how foreign holiday issues can be managed in their organisation.

We take a look at three top foreign holiday issues for employers below:

1. The Quarantine Conundrum

Most employees who decide to holiday abroad are likely to choose a green list country which will usually mean that there won’t be a requirement to quarantine on return. However, there may be some employees who wish to travel to (or through) an amber list country in which case there will usually be a 10 day quarantine requirement at home on return. (If an employee is travelling to a red list country, you should seek advice on the employment law aspects of your case.) Whilst the government is discouraging travel to amber list countries it is no longer illegal so some employees may decide to travel to one of those destinations.

If an employee is holidaying abroad in circumstances that would require them to quarantine at home on their return employers will need to consider if / how the compulsory period of quarantine can be accommodated:

  • If the employee works from home they could continue to do so during the quarantine period (and would be entitled to their usual pay)
  • If an employee cannot work from home, annual leave could be used to cover the quarantine period if they have enough leave available
  • A period of unpaid leave could be agreed to cover the quarantine period. Generally, there is no entitlement to SSP for someone who is compulsorily quarantining ‘post holiday’ who is not unwell (if you offer Company sick pay you would need to check your policy).

If you would like advice on the circumstances of a situation in your organisation, including if you do not think you can accommodate the extra time away from work the quarantine period would entail, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd for advice.

2. What if an employee is unable to travel home because they have contracted Covid-19?

Usually, an employer should treat the employee as being on sick leave and pay them accordingly (in most cases allowing them to take any of the pre-booked holiday they may miss at another time). However, the employee could choose to use holiday to cover some / all the period although they cannot be required to do so. In some situations, remote working may be an option.

3. What if an employee wants to cancel their annual leave?

Employees may find that they need to cancel their annual leave, this could be because the holiday advice for their travel destination changes or there are other rule changes that affect their ability (or wish) to travel. Whilst employers don’t usually have to agree to allow an employee to cancel their annual leave, it is often advisable to be flexible regarding holiday cancellations if you can as employees may find their plans have had to change (sometimes at short notice) through no fault of their own. A flexible approach where possible from employers will be beneficial for the organisation in terms of employee relations.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.