Coronavirus and Holidays outside of the UK

News on 10 June 2020

Normally, we’d be coming up to the time of year where people would be dusting off the suitcase and packing for their summer holiday. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic, things have changed a bit.

How does this affect me and my employees?

At the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty about travel. Some people’s holidays have been cancelled, which will mean they won’t want to take the time off that they’d originally booked.

Other’s will still be planning on going on their trip because the flights and hotels have confirmed the holiday is still possible.

What happens if the holiday is cancelled?

If the holiday is cancelled, you’re going to need to have a conversation with your employee to find out if they still intend to take that time off as annual leave or if they would be looking to cancel it. You do not have to agree to the employees request to cancel their leave.

If they still want the time off, then you don’t really need to do anything. However, if they want to cancel their leave, then you’re going to need to think about how this will impact the business. If they cancel their holiday now, how many days leave will they have to use up by the end of your holiday year? Is this going to cause problems when you’re balancing time off and the workload?

Why not look at getting the employee to rearrange their time off rather than cancelling it? That way, you know when they will be off, and you can plan.

If they are uncertain when they want to take time off, you can look at requesting they take annual leave at a specific time. You are allowed to do this as long as you give them a reasonable amount of notice. When we say reasonable, we mean twice the amount of time you want them to take off. So, if you want them to take 1 day off, give them 2 days’ notice, for 2 days off, give them 4 days’ notice, for 5 days off give them 10 days’ notice, and so on.

The holiday is still happening

If you have an employee whose holiday is still going ahead, then you need to look at where they are going and put a plan in place for their return.

If they are staying within the UK, or Common Travel Area (Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Ireland), then they would just go on their holiday and return to work as normal. However, if they are travelling outside of these areas, the current advice is that they self-isolate for 14 days after they return to the UK.

What this means in reality is that if your employee chooses to go on a holiday to anywhere outside of the Common Travel Area, then they are acknowledging that they will need to self-isolate when they return.

How do I deal with a self-isolating employee?

Before any of your employees go on holidays you need to have a conversation with them to find out where they are going. If they need to self-isolate when they return to the UK, you’re going to need to have a discussion with them about how they take this time off work.

If they have enough annual leave left, then they can take this, with your approval. Alternatively, you could agree with them that they take a period of unpaid leave. They will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) under the current regulations.

Does everyone leaving the UK need to self-isolate when they return?

There are some exceptions to the rules here. For example, if you run a logistics company and your HGV drivers are transporting things from Europe to the UK, they will not need to self-isolate. However, they will need to show that travel is part of their job. So, you may need to give them a letter to keep with them when travelling.

More details of the exceptions can be found here