On 25th July 2020, the government announced that it was removing Spain from the list of countries on its travel corridor scheme. Therefore, anyone returning from Spain, the Balearics and Canary Islands, must self-isolate for 14 days when they return to the UK. HR Consultant in our Education team, Clare Bromley, outlines the key guidance for schools and colleges regarding holidays and quarantine.
Due to the number of recent Coronavirus flare ups, it’s expected that the government will impose further short-notice restrictions on holiday makers.
How does this impact schools and colleges?
What to Tell Staff Before They Go on Holiday
Set out your expectations in a letter to your staff. We would suggest that you advise them on the following:
- To inform you if they are planning to travel abroad;
- To advise you if the country they are travelling to falls outside of the travel corridor scheme;
- Staff returning after 17th August 2020 who are required to quarantine will be unable to return to work on 1st September 2020.
- Staff who are in quarantine, will not be paid for their period of absence from the school or college.
- Staff are not entitled to sick pay, as they are not sick when in quarantine.
(For previous quarantine periods, the government announced changes to the Statutory Sick Pay rules. However, no changes have been forthcoming in relation to the most recent announcement).
You do have the option to ask staff not to book last minute holidays abroad towards the end of the summer holidays. You should confirm that they will have to follow the quarantine guidelines in place, highlighting that this can be imposed at very short notice and that, ultimately, the risk is theirs to take.
A joint circular issued by the Local Government Association (LGA), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) states that schools and colleges ‘must’ make these arrangements clear to staff prior to them going on leave.
Holidays and Quarantine: Frequently Asked Questions
- Do staff have to inform you if they are in quarantine?
Yes, staff who don’t report for work must follow the school or college’s absence reporting procedure in the normal way.
- Can staff continue to work during quarantine?
Staff who have to self-quarantine during term time will only be able to work if it is feasible for them to work from home. Given that the government wants school and colleges to open to all pupils from 1st September 2020, it’s unlikely that you will be able to accommodate home working for most school staff in quarantine.
- Do we have to pay staff if they can’t work?
No, unless staff are ill, you don’t have to pay them if they can’t work.
The LGA and unions NAHT and ASCL have acknowledged that staff employed in schools whose terms and conditions are governed by the Burgundy Book or the NJC Green Book are not entitled to be paid if they self-quarantine. This is a supportive position for schools.
- What if I cancel annual leave for staff?
The majority of staff in schools and colleges are required to work during term time and bound to take their holidays during closure periods.
The impact of this is that you are unlikely to know if and when any of your staff are going on holiday. This is why the letter to staff to set out your expectations is important.
- If staff are in quarantine, could this be seen as a misconduct issue?
We would advise to approach this matter with great caution.It is pertinent to note that Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary has said “you cannot be penalised in this country lawfully for following the rules and the law that’s in place” and going on to suggest that anyone who is self-isolating should be treated sympathetically by their employer.
You can, potentially, discipline someone for travelling abroad if they can’t return to work promptly because they have to quarantine, but you would need to be able to establish that it is reasonable to take action against that member of staff.
An example of where this may be justified may be where a member of staff books a holiday knowing that they will have to self-quarantine afterwards and therefore would be unable to attend work.