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New law: Employers in England dealing with new requirement for employees returning from abroad to quarantine for 14 days

English employers are setting up systems to deal with employees who cannot attend work because of new laws requiring individuals entering England from abroad, including returning English holidaymakers, to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

The new laws say those affected must fill in a form and immediately quarantine themselves for 14 days at the address they give on the form, or risk committing a criminal offence.

The address can be their home or that of a friend or family, or a hotel, hostel, B&B or other suitable places.

Exceptions include:

  • Travellers from other parts of the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands (the Common Travel Area or CTA), provided they have not arrived within the CTA from somewhere else within the last 14 days.
  • People living in the UK who work in another country, or vice versa, who travel backwards and forwards at least once a week.
  • Goods or public service vehicle drivers, including bus and coach drivers.

Failure to quarantine themselves can result in a fine of £1,000. Failure to complete a form accurately, or to update the information in it if circumstances change, can result in a fine of up to £3,200.

The new rules have implications for employers, including the following:

  • Employers should provide information about the new rules to employees planning to travel abroad on holiday.
  • If they are minded to do so, employers should check they are legally entitled to do so before cancelling any leave booked by an employee who says they will be holidaying abroad.
  • They should consider whether they can require employees to work during their quarantine period, or require them to take their quarantine periods as part of their annual leave, as unpaid leave or time off sick (in which case the issue of whether sick pay is payable should also be considered).

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendation

  • Employers in any doubt about their powers and responsibilities in relation to employees who must quarantine themselves should consider taking specialist professional advice.

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