“What can I do about employees going on holiday abroad?”

Kevin Bennett

March 26 2021

With summer fast approaching, you may be noticing an uptick in annual leave requests.

It’s important for employers to understand that the pandemic isn’t over yet, and coronavirus restrictions remain in place. Thus, a duty of care to staff in this regard is still necessary.

Rules on returning to the UK

There are new rules that could affect your employees on their return to the UK. Current regulations mean that individuals must self-isolate for 10 days if returning to Northern Ireland from a country outside the Common Travel Area (CTA). This doesn’t apply if they’re travelling from or transiting through a low to medium risk country that is exempt.

Some countries are exempt from needing to self-isolate, an arrangement that's regularly reviewed. Please note that all exemptions are currently suspended from January 18th, 2021. However, this could change by the summer.

Your employees have a legal obligation to self-isolate as per the above instructions on their return from a location not on the exemption list. Legislation can be found in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020. This could impact your ability to provide them with work if they cannot work from home.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will now run until September 30th, 2021. The level of grant available to employers will also stay the same until June 30th, 2021. We still don't know if the rules will allow you to place a self-isolating employee onto furlough during this time.

That may result in the employee technically imposing isolation on themselves. It’s worth reminding them that they may have to take a period of unpaid leave during that isolation time.

What options do employees have?

Other options available to employees would be booking extra annual leave during this time. Or, in agreement, you could offer time off in lieu if they have worked the time up.

An employee may return from abroad and display symptoms of COVID-19. If they test positive, they can be placed on sick leave and receive SSP, or company sick pay.

Need help with your HR issues?

For assistance with maintaining business continuity during the restrictions, including information on the furlough scheme, call our 24/7 helpline now on 0800 917 0771.

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