As you will be aware the government have now progressed to the next stage in easing the lockdown in accordance with their roadmap. This means that more people are able to meet outside, you can now meet some friends and family indoors, as well as enjoy a drink in your local. It also means that people are allowed to travel abroad, and whilst the government is urging caution, some will not be able to wait to soak up some much-needed sunshine.
The Traffic Light System
Whilst some travel is permitted, the government has laid out a traffic light system, which is as follows:
1. The Green List
Countries on the green list are those considered to have low Covid-19 infection rates. If you travel to one of these countries, you are not required to self-isolate upon return. However, you are required to book and pay for a covid-19 test, which needs to be taken on or before your 2nd day back in England.
Of course, if you test positive for Covid-19 you will be required to self-isolate, in line with the current government guidance.
2. The Amber List
Travel to countries on the amber list is not recommended, as these countries are not considered to have safe levels of Covid-19 infection rates.
If you do travel to a country on the amber list, then you will be required to self-isolate upon your return to England for 10 days. You are also required to take a Covid-19 test on or before your 2nd day back and either on or after your 8th day back in the country.
If either of these tests come back positive, you will be required to self-isolate, in line with government guidance.
You may be able to end your quarantine early if you pay for a private Covid-19 test through the Test to Release Scheme. If the test result is negative, then you will be able to end your self-isolation period. However, the test cannot be taken until you have been back in England for 5 days.
3. The Red List
Travel to countries on the red list is not recommended, as these countries are considered to have a high number of Covid-19 infection rates.
If you return to England, from a country on the red list, you are required to self-isolate for 10 days, in a manged quarantine hotel.
Before returning to England
Before you return to England you must ensure:
- You take a Covid-19 test up to 3 days before you depart, and you will need to show a negative test result when you arrive; and
- You need to complete a passenger locator form, 48 hours before returning to the UK.
Considerations for Employees
If you are considering going abroad, I would recommend you discuss matters with your employer, as it is possible for countries to move (as they did at short notice last year) between the green, amber and red list. Whilst the government guidance states it will provide some warning, if a country looks like it may change groups and if changes happen quickly this may not be possible.
This means you could go away to a country on the green list and its category change, whilst you are in the country. This would mean the isolation rules, upon returning England, would change, and may in turn impact on your work.
Considerations for Employers
1. What will you pay your employee who goes on holiday to a green list country, which then changes to amber or red, whilst they are away?
This will very much depend on the circumstances. If the employee is required to self-isolate for 10 days, upon return to England, because the holiday destination has been placed on the amber list, you should consider whether the employee can work from home, take more holiday or unpaid leave.
2. What are the consequences if an employee breaches the self-isolation rules?
Again, this will depend on the circumstances, the government has introduced penalties for individuals who breach the isolation rules when returning from a red list destination.
If an employee breaches the isolation period when returning from an amber destination, I recommend you discuss this with them, before deciding whether disciplinary action is required.
3. How will absence due to self-isolation be recorded?
I would advise that absence, due to self-isolating, is not recorded on an employees’ sickness record, but you will need to consider and decide this in advance.
4. What will an employee be paid if they test positive for Covid-19?
In this situation, I would advise you pay employees in line with the company sickness policy, for instance, if you offer, company sick pay I would recommend this is paid. As a minimum employee’s should be paid statutory sick pay if they test positive.
Overall, my advice is to discuss matters with your employees if they inform you, they are going abroad and to seek advice on any issues, which arise as a result.