Much has been on the news lately about the travel restrictions that are being imposed on individuals from 08 June 2020.  In short, and as outlined on Gov.UK, anyone entering the UK on or after this date will be subject to new rules:

  • Individuals will need to provide journey and contact details (before travel)
  • Individuals must self-isolate at a named location for 14 days (after travel)

This does not apply where travel is from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.  Full information is provided on Gov.UK in various places:

The Legislation

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 are an interesting read.  They put into action the Home Secretary’s plans for people coming to the UK (to self-isolate for 14 days at a specified location) from 08 June 2020.

The regulations are allowed to be made as an ’emergency procedure’ under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.  This is a piece of legislation that extends to England and Wales only.  Likewise with the 2020 Travel Regulations.  They come into force on 08 June 2020, must be reviewed every 21 days (the first being by 29 June 2020) and expire twelve months after this date.

However, whilst the 2020 Travel Regulations ‘extend’ to Wales, they are only ‘applied’ in England.

The Devolved Nations?
  • I can see that Wales have The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations They are also made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and mirror those that apply in England
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 are made under the Public Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1967 and seem to mirror those In England and Wales
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 are made under provisions in the Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008 and are very similar to the others

However, although there is a general UK-wide 14-day self-isolation period conferred by 4 different sets of Regulations, the penalties and the exemptions are not the same.

The Issue?

The requirement to self-isolate when a person arrives in the UK initially suggests that someone who is quarantining would qualify for SSP as a result of the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020 (and the Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 .  These were all to do with people following advice to isolate themselves from others.

However, this advice has to come from Public Health England, NHS National Services Scotland, Public Health Wales or the Regional Agency for Public Health and Social Well-being in Northern Ireland on 16 March 2020. This was the guidance that changed the previous self-isolation advice from 7 days to 14 days in some cases.

These pieces of legislation amended the governing SSP legislation and opened up the SSP system to people self-isolating as being deemed incapable of work under their contract of employment.

The 4 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations 2020 that apply in the various UK nations do not go anywhere near the overriding SSP legislation.

The Result?

Unless they meet one of the (many) exemptions, people returning to the United Kingdom from overseas travel from 08 June 2020 will be required to self-isolate at a named location for 14 days for fear of a penalty.

However, this is a legal requirement made as a result of a provisions in public health legislation.  It is not as a result of any public health guidance.

In short, if employees chooses to take a week’s holiday outside of the UK, when they return, they may have to self-isolate and they will not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

Action

Sickness is where someone is deemed to be incapable of work under their contract of employment.  That is why SSP is payable and, frequently, occupational schemes will also only pay when someone is sick and cannot work under their contract of employment.

If a person is caught by these 2020 Regulations, they are not sick but have made a personal decision (to travel) that may impact employers (i.e. they can only work from home).  For someone that works from home, this is fine.  Therefore, I believe that:

  • The exemptions in each pieces of the legislation need to be analysed to identify exactly who is and who is not affected
  • Employers need to digest the information and decide how they will treat these self-isolation days under any occupational sickness policy
  • Employers need to communicate this to employees. The words ‘self-isolate’ scream an entitlement to SSP at the very least.  This is not the case

When we do return to a ‘new normal’, I think many of us will want a holiday.  However, if I was returning to the UK and was not in an exempt category, I wonder if I would want one if I knew that I wasn’t going to be paid whilst I quarantined at home for 14 days!

 

 

 

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