O’Donnell Solicitors : Sun, sea and quarantine – What are my employment rights?

AS lockdown has eased, many have jumped on an aeroplane to enjoy some much-needed time away in the sun. However, Covid-19 has not gone away and spikes are being seen across the world.

Suzzanne Gardener

In response, the Government regularly updates its ‘green list’ of countries exempt from quarantine. If a county is removed from the ‘green list’, those travelling back from there must undertake a 14-day quarantine, effectively preventing employees from attending their place of work.

If you have travelled to a non-exempt country and are able to work from home, you may continue working. However, if you are unable to work from home, you may not be able to work at all.

So, what does this mean for my employment rights?

Can I still be paid? – Employers are required to pay employees where the employee is ‘ready willing and able’ to work, even when work is not available. While there is currently no official guidance, ACAS guidance suggests those who cannot work from home are not entitled to pay. The Government extension to SSP for those who are symptomatic or living with someone who is doesn’t extend to those who travel abroad.

Can I be dismissed? – If you’ve worked for your employer for over two years then you’re protected from being dismissed unfairly. Would it be unfair to dismiss someone who cannot attend work because they have had to isolate? Employers may consider it to be a fair reason for dismissal where the employee has knowingly travelled to a non-exempt country. If you haven’t worked for your employer for over two years then you only have limited protection from unfair dismissal.

Can I cancel my annual leave? – Employees may request to cancel their leave in light of mandatory quarantine; however, requests would need to be agreed by the employer. The Government has created legislation allowing workers to carry over up to four weeks annual leave, which can be used over the next two years where it is not ‘reasonably practicable’ to take leave in this current leave year due to Covid-19.

At O’Donnell Solicitors our Employment Law team advise both employers and employees and understand that Covid-19 has brought with it many changes and challenges in the workplace. For advice, call  01457 761 320 or email Suzzanne Gardener at suzzanne@odonnellsolicitors.co.uk

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