The government’s sudden decision to slap a 14-day quarantine on people returning to the UK from Spain and its islands has caused anger, dismay and confusion.
How it affects pay and annual leave is a hot topic, with one dealer group boss telling Car Dealer: ‘We’ve got a number of staff on holiday in Spain and have told them they’ll need to take unpaid leave when they come back or extra holiday.
‘We can’t afford to pay them for this time off and we’re already running with less staff.
‘While the quarantine rules are unavoidable, we can’t cope paying out for staff having more time off. It’s hard enough as it is at the moment.’
It’s the law now that anyone returning from Spain as well as the Balearic and Canary Islands after July 26 will have to self-isolate for a fortnight when they get back to the UK.
Those that don’t self-isolate face being fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while those going back to Scotland may be fined £480 – and up to £5,000 for persistent offenders.
But can staff be forced to take unpaid leave? Here, Car Dealer examines the contentious issue, including that of sick pay, and provides the answers, with the help of Lawgistics…
Kiril Moskovchuk, legal adviser at the consultancy, told Car Dealer that employees returning from Spain and its islands will have to self-isolate but they won’t be entitled to statutory sick pay unless they develop symptoms or have another reason to claim.
‘Technically, if they cannot work from home or another place where they are self-isolating, they will not be available for work, and it will be an unpaid leave,’ he said.
But there is a solution – sort of…
‘A better alternative will be to agree an extension of annual leave in advance to cover the required quarantine.
‘You may direct your employees to take annual leave to cover the quarantine period, subject to the usual notice requirement.
‘Bear in mind that you can give notice when the employee is away on leave but you need to make sure the notice is communicated and read, so if your employee checks his emails on leave and responds, either accepting or opposing, this should be fine.’
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