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Employment rights whilst in quarantine

Employment rights whilst in quarantine following your holiday


As various countries experience a spike in Covid-19 cases, the UK Government are insisting, at short notice, that people returning from certain countries should self-isolate for 14 days.



But for many, the question is “what are my employment rights if I am quarantined?” 


What are my employment rights?

Acas, the Workplace advisory body, explains that your rights may well depend on your working situation.


Can I work from home?

If your role allows you to work from home, then your work may not be affected if you have to self-isolate.


Can I claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Acas says that employees and workers “are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they're self-isolating after returning to the UK and cannot work from home.” 

However, as a discretionary measure, an employer can choose to pay an employee SSP - or a higher rate of sick pay - if they choose to.


What happens if I’m already on holiday when quarantine rules change?

Employers should contact employees upon their return or sooner to confirm the need for the 14 day quarantine. The employer needs to make clear whether the employee can work from home and if not, the employer and employee should agree how the absence will be covered; see SSP above.


If I cannot work from home what are my options?

Acas explains: “If an employee cannot do their job from home, they may need to take extra annual leave to cover the 14 days of self-isolation. In some cases, this might mean their annual leave request is refused.” 

However, employers and employees can agree terms on one of the following bases;

  • Paying full pay
  • Paying the equivalent of SSP (this cannot be claimed back from the SSP Rebate Scheme)
  • Paying contractual sick pay
  • Agreeing on further annual leave
  • Enforcing annual leave by giving the required amount of notice (double the length of the holiday being enforced)
  • A period of unpaid leave
  • A period of furlough ('temporary leave')





If I need to quarantine but cannot work from home, can I lose my job?

Employers do not have to give employees time off if they are unable to work from home.


In a dispute the employee only has a claim to unfair dismissal if they have been with the employer for two or more years.


What if I’ve booked to go to a country that goes on the quarantine list?

Discussions between employer and employee should take place before the employee leaves and, based on the options above, should agree how the self-isolation period will be dealt with. 

Employers are allowed to cancel leave that has already been authorised. Some may choose to do this if it is thought that the extra absence cannot be accommodated. The employer must give the required amount of notice (the same length as the leave in question). 

However, by doing this the employer risks causing a rift between them and their employees especially if the employee were to lose money.


Travel because of family emergencies

Employers should be respectful and fair towards employees and workers who need to travel because of a family emergency or the death of a family member outside the UK. 

If the employee cannot work from home when they return, the employer could consider offering unpaid leave or special paid leave for some or all of the time they're in self-isolation. 


Please note; the rules vary depending on where you are in the UK, so it’s worth checking separate advice if you need to self-isolate in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

 We strongly recommend that readers contact their Citizens Advise Bureau for all legal advice.


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