- Posted Monday August 24, 2020
The country may be adapting to the ‘new normal’, but the pandemic will still cause issues for employers.
It is likely that “the new normal” is going to be this way for a while. Part of the new guidelines is the need to “self-isolate” or “quarantine” for 14 days when returning to the UK from abroad. Certain countries in a “travel corridor” mean you may not need to self-isolate, but the list is changing on an increasingly regular basis, with new countries being added to the list (like Portugal and Greece), but others being removed from the list, such as Belgium or The Bahamas.
These changes makes it hard for you and your staff to book a holiday with certainty that they won’t need to isolate for 14 days when they come home.
So what does this mean for your practice, where working from home won’t always be an option - can and should employees be booking holidays?
The first thing to consider, is that each case will be different.
The government has advised against travel, but for some employees, they may have ill relatives living abroad, they may need to see family. For these employees, they may have no choice but to go abroad and will need to work with you as their employee to find a way that this can be done. Other employees may have lots of annual leave to take as they haven’t used any yet, and it might be a benefit for the practice for the employee to take three or four weeks off work, as it will help the practice over the Christmas period with this employee having less holiday to work then. Some employees may have had a difficult time over the past few months and really be in need of a break.
As an employer, do you need to let the employee take the holiday?
The short answer, is no. Employees do not have a right to any holiday they choose and an employer can indeed reject a holiday request if it means the business will suffer. Employees do have a right to take a minimum of 5.6 weeks holiday per year though and you have a duty to ensure that they do take that amount of holiday. Before rejecting a holiday due to the length of time the employee will be absent from work, it is worth considering whether the practice can indeed manage without the employee, as there is a great benefit to an employees well being to have a break and having to cancel a holiday that is planned when it is no fault of their own may result in fines and the loss of money.
What options does the practice have?
- Allow the employee to take the holiday and extend their leave. If they initially booked a two week holiday, extend this to a four week holiday with the employee using their accrued holiday allowance. You may consider allowing an employee to take over their accrual.
- The employee has no right to sick pay, but you may decide as an employer to pay it if you wish. This could be either SSP or CSP.
- Allow the holiday but let the employee know that the two weeks quarantine will need to be taken as Unpaid Leave.
- As mentioned previously, refuse the leave.
- If it is possible for the employee to work from home, this should be the first option.
Overall, these are unusual times and both practices and employees need to be considerate and flexible where they can, working together will certainly deliver the best outcomes for the business in the long run.