The Government’s decision to move Portugal from the Green to the Amber travel list has disrupted travel plans for many.  Along with fears that full COVID restrictions may not be removed later this month it suggests that another summer of travel disruption and changed plans may be on the cards.  In this bulletin we look at what employers can do to manage the situation.

First, a summary of the rules: 

  • Travel to Amber and Red listed countries is not permitted.
  • Anyone arriving from these countries must take a COVID-19 test before departure and 2 further tests after arrival in the UK
  • Travellers arriving from a Red listed country must quarantine for 10 days in a managed hotel.
  • Arrivals from an Amber listed country must quarantine for 10 days at home (or in their accommodation). This can be shortened through participation in the Test to Release scheme which requires payment for a private test to be taken on day 5 of quarantine.
  • Travel to Green listed countries is permitted and travellers must take a test within 2 days of arrival in the UK.
  • Here is the link to the.GOV site for full guidance TRAVEL GUIDANCE

As far as taking holidays are concerned, this looks quite straightforward – no-one should be travelling to a Red or Amber listed country and holidays in Green listed countries just require a test and the usual procedures around self-isolation if the test is positive.

Where things start to get complicated is where a country moves from Green to Red or Amber – or where a more severe lockdown restricts travel altogether. Travellers may find they are unexpectedly required to self-isolate – or may even not be able to return home.

So what are the options for employers?

  • If employees are currently working from home, or their work can be done from home temporarily, this can continue during the isolation period
  • If working from home is not possible, a period of unpaid leave could be granted
  • Employees could be given the option of taking additional holiday to cover the self-isolation
  • You could decide to pay the employee as normal.

In these circumstances, we would not recommend any form of disciplinary action or sanction.  However, this may be different if an employee knowingly travels to a red or amber destination.  While the breaking of the travel rules in itself is not an employment issue, failure to return to work due to the requirement to self-isolate could be.

As the holiday season gets under way, we suggest employers notify their employees in advance how they will deal with these circumstances.  This should avoid decisions being made “on the fly” and ensure a consistent approach.

If you have any questions about these changes or need additional support please don’t hesitate to contact our team by phone (01484 841776) or email info@penninehr.co.uk