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Holidays, quarantine and sick pay

Is an employee travelling back from France entitled to sick pay for self-isolation during coronavirus?

With France now being added to the growing list of countries that returning holidaymakers will be forced to quarantine for 14 days from, as well as being a major inconvenience to those affected, it also has big implications for business and employers.

With the Foreign Office now advising against all non-essential travel to favourite holiday destinations including Spain, France, The Netherlands, Malta and more due to coronavirus, there is no doubt that these quarantine periods could have an impact in your workplace.

But what is the position regarding sick pay for employees who are having to self isolate because of coronavirus? The official advice from government is that you are not entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if you are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK. Employees and workers “are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they're self-isolating after returning to the UK and cannot work from home.” However, the government is relying on the goodwill of employers and expects employers to be “flexible” in allowing staff to work from home while self-isolating.

If the employee’s role allows them to work from home, then their work may not be affected and they can be paid as normal. However, if they cannot do their work from home, they may need to take extra annual leave to cover the 14 days of self-isolation.

However, as an employer, you can choose to pay an employee SSP, or a higher rate of sick pay, if you choose to. Employers can also consider other options, including putting an employee on furlough for the time that they are self-isolating (this would have to be a minimum of three weeks in line with furlough policy), if both parties agree.

Despite not being eligible for SSP, the government has said that holidaymakers who miss out on work because of the quarantine period may be eligible for Universal Credit or employment support allowance.

Many holidaymakers would of course already have been in France when the UK government ordered the 14-day quarantine for returning visitors. The advice to anyone currently on holiday in one of the quarantine listed countries is to get in touch with their employer to ensure that they understand the need to self-isolate and to agree with them how the absence will be covered.

If one of your employees already has a holiday booked, they should certainly discuss the options with you before departure. Employers are permitted to cancel leave that has already been authorised, and you may choose to do this to prevent the employee from travelling abroad if it is thought that the extra absence cannot be accommodated.

When can sick pay be claimed because of coronavirus?

You are entitled to claim SSP if you are unable to work and you are:

· self-isolating because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms

· self-isolating because you have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus

· staying at home because you’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, in other words ‘shielding’

If a government 'test and trace' service tells someone they've been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive, they must also self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms, everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

Employees in self-isolation need to follow their workplace's usual sickness reporting process.

Employees can 'self-certify' for the first 7 days off work. This means following their workplace process but not having to get a note from a doctor or NHS.


People returning to the UK must self-isolate or 'quarantine' for 14 days, if they have returned from one of the countries on the list of specified quarantine listed countries.

Employees or workers are not entitled to SSP if they are self-isolating after returning from holiday and they cannot work from home. They may be entitled to SSP for another reason, for example if they have coronavirus symptoms.

An employer can choose to pay the employee an amount equivalent to SSP, or a higher amount of pay, if they want to. It is a good idea to update your workplace policy with regard to paying SSP or a higher rate of sick pay if anyone needs to self-isolate after returning to the UK.

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