With the easing of restrictions on the 17th May, the Government continued on its pathway of bringing the UK out of all lockdown restrictions. Many people will have also noticed that the ‘travel ban has been lifted’ or people are no longer legally prohibited from travelling abroad.
The Government has now put a traffic light system in place with various implications depending on which colour category the country is placed within. So what do these categories look like (correct as of 21st May 2021):
GREEN: When travelling to the UK, from one of these countries, you are required to book and take a Covid test on or before the second day after you arrive and do not need to quarantine unless the result is positive.
AMBER: It is worth noting that the Government guidance remains ‘You should not travel to amber list countries or territories’. Therefore travelling for holidays is still not recommended and travel should be restricted to necessary journeys.
Even when vaccinated, the requirements when returning from an Amber country is that you must quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days. You must also book and pay for tests on or before the second day and also on or after day 8 of your quarantine period. You may be able to end quarantine earlier if you book and pay for private testing through the ‘test to release scheme’
RED: Again, travel is prohibited and those returning from these countries will be required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days which will include taking two covid tests. The costs for these hotels are in excess of £1,500 for one adult in one room.
For a full list of all the countries and requirements you can visit here.
It is important to consider the implication of employees travelling abroad.
You may want to consider updating your holiday booking procedures so that it captures additional information, for example if an employee is travelling abroad during their annual leave period and if so, which countries they will be visiting.
We would recommend that you explain to the employee in writing why you need this additional information and signpost them to where they can access the most up to date information on foreign travel. You should also explain how any quarantine absence will be treated and recorded should they travel to a country where this is required.
It is worthwhile noting that Statutory Sick Pay does not extend to employees required to quarantine under these circumstances. So, unless employees are suffering symptoms themselves, live with someone with symptoms or have been contacted by contact tracing, then SSP is not an option. Where your employee has remaining, annual leave left you can ask them to use this to cover the quarantine period, however insisting is probably not an option as you may not have the required notice (twice the amount of notice for the period of leave). If they do not have adequate leave days to cover the period then unpaid leave remains an option.
As an Employer, you will have to consider how the business will manage without those individuals if they decide to travel to a country on the amber or red list. Not only will they be absent for their holiday period, but there may also be up to 10 additional days where the employee is unable to attend work on site, unless they are able to work from home.
Finally, there is no harm in reminding employees that they could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both, if they do not provide accurate details about the countries they have visited in the 10 days before arriving in the UK on their passenger locator form. The same fine applies for breaching quarantine rules.
For help adjusting your policies or how to manage travel during Covid with your employees, please contact the HR Support team for more information.
By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt) – HR Business Partner