August 6, 2020

Self-isolation is one of the biggest changes to daily life that has been brought in due to the coronavirus pandemic, and one that is likely to cause some headaches for employers and employees alike. With local lockdowns and changes to the list of countries where you do and don’t need to self-isolate upon return, its vital to understand the implications of self-isolation for employment. 

When do you need to self-isolate?

Self-isolation means a person must stay in their home for a set period of time. This means you cannot go to a shop, have visitors or leave your house to work. You must self-isolate if:

  • You have tested positive for coronavirus
  • You have coronavirus symptoms
  • You live with someone who, or someone in your support bubble, has tested positive or has symptoms
  • You are told by the NHS Test and Trace that you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive
  • You travel to a country on the UK’s ‘quarantine list’.

Will my employer still pay me if I have to self-isolate?

Unfortunately, the answer to this is not simple.

If you cannot work because you must self-isolate then you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are self-isolating because you (or someone you live with or someone in your support bubble) has tested positive or has symptoms, or if you are contacted by Test and Trace. You will need to produce an isolation note which can be issued from the NHS website.

However, if you have to self-isolate because you have travelled to a country on the UK’s ‘quarantine list’ then you are not entitled to SSP. So, for example, many people had travelled to Spain from the UK and were in the country when Spain was added back on to the quarantine list. Those individuals would have to self-isolate upon their return, and would not be entitled to SSP – even though Spain was not on the list when they began their trip.

What are my employment rights if I have travelled to a country on the ‘quarantine list’?

If you have travelled to a country on the ‘quarantine list’, you will have to self-isolate upon your return and are not entitled to SSP. Your employer is under no obligation to pay you in this instance.

If you are able, and your employer agrees, then you could work from home during this time – which would be at your normal rate of pay. If you have enough annual leave left, you could also take this time as annual leave. Alternatively, you may be able take this time as unpaid leave if your employer will allow it.

Working together

It is vital that both employers and employees understand their changing rights and obligations at this time. Employers and employees are strongly encouraged to work together and to be as flexible as possible during a difficult time.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Terry Jones Solicitors today.

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