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Managing Your Workforce Following the Changes to International Travel Advice

on Friday, 17 July 2020.

Following recent changes to international travel advice, employers should continue to plan for all foreseeable eventualities in respect of staff travel abroad.

We previously reported on the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon return from most overseas travel. The requirement to self-isolate was mandatory and, for limited circumstances, required those entering the UK to remain at their address for 14 days without leaving to go to work or school.

On 3 July 2020, the Government announced an exemption to this rule and published a list of destinations, called 'travel corridors', which are no longer considered to pose an unacceptably high risk of coronavirus (COVID-19). The change, which came into effect on 10 July 2020, allows individuals to travel to the countries on the list without having to self-isolate upon their arrival to, or return from, the UK.

The travel exemption list includes many European countries and countries further afield such as Australia and New Zealand. The Government has emphasised the list remains under review and subject to change; for example Spain and Luxembourg have both recently been removed from the list. The Government has also warned that those who travel should be prepared to quarantine at their destination and undergo treatment if they test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) abroad. The FCO has also updated its advice against 'all but essential' travel to the countries which fall within this exemption.

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Next Steps for Employers

Whilst the quarantine rules have been relaxed, it remains reasonable to ask staff to keep employers informed of international travel plans. As we have seen before, there is potential scope for business disruption if employees become stuck abroad for any reason, or are required to self-isolate on their return to the UK due to a change in the list of travel corridor exemptions.

Many employers now have unforeseen absence policies. It is sensible to ensure staff are aware of these, and understand the pay implications if they were to be stuck abroad or otherwise unable to work for any reason following international travel. It is also open to employers to implement a local policy of asking staff to work from home for 14 days following any international travel, if this is considered necessary in order to protect the wider workforce.

For specialist legal advice on workforce planning in view of the implications of international travel during the pandemic, please contact Sian James in our Employment Law team on 07468 698971, or complete the form below.

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