The change in rules – following an increase in coronavirus cases in countries – means people returning from vacation will have to take an additional two weeks off unless they can do their jobs remotely.
Worse yet, they have no automatic right to be paid for this period, and could even be fired.
The current rules state that it is up to companies to decide whether workers are paid normal wages, are obliged to take two additional weeks of leave or quarantine time in the form of unpaid leave.
“The government is urging employers to understand those returning from these destinations which will now have to isolate themselves,” read a statement from the Department of Transport and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
But urging employers is not the same as guaranteeing sick pay or that jobs will be preserved.
The government website states: ‘You cannot get SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) if you self-isolate after entering or re-entering the UK and don’t need to self-isolate for any other reason. ”
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Labor law specialists at the Peninsula Group said: “Forced unpaid leave in the UK can take place. ”
But he warned bosses to be careful when implementing it.
“Your right to do this must be pre-established with a contractual provision in place. Without it, you will have to get your employee to accept the change, ”he explained.
“There is no limit to how long you can fire an employee, but if they have been absent from work for four consecutive weeks or six weeks in a 13 week period or no more than six consecutive weeks, then they can claim severance pay and resign from their position.
“If the employee has worked for you for more than a month, they may also be entitled to statutory warranty compensation, which is currently £ 30 per day for a maximum of five days.
“You should avoid asking staff to take unpaid vacation, coronavirus or whatever. “
Sarah Chilton, Labor Law Partner at CM Murray, said: “The extension of the mandatory 14-day quarantine to France, Malta and the Netherlands will cause further disruption for employees and employers when workers cannot return to work because of the requirement. in quarantine, unless they can work from home.
“Employees’ rights to be paid during a quarantine period are limited, with no entitlement to statutory sick pay, and therefore it will be up to employers whether or not employees are paid.
“A lot of employers won’t and just may not be able to. We are also concerned that this may encourage employers and employees not to comply with the rules, which has a significant and wider impact on public health.
“We advise affected employees and employers to discuss the matter as soon as possible, to understand how the quarantine period will be handled. It is possible to agree that this is paid annual leave or authorized leave without pay.
“It was suggested that some employees could be penalized if they do not come to work.
“Any disciplinary measure or dismissal must be reasonable, and where there is a more reasonable alternative, that is to say leave without pay, these sanctions are likely to be unreasonable and therefore unfair.
“These employees should consider whether they have any other protection, which is likely to be very limited and complicated, if it exists for them. “