How can you prevent your staff from ignoring quarantine?

30th July 2020

How can you prevent your staff from ignoring quarantine?

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The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown all of us numerous conundrums as we try to cope with flurries of new legislation, furlough, and a tentative return to work.  As the government permits foreign travel again, and then suddenly revokes its own advice as the pandemic waxes and wanes unpredictably, employers continue to face challenging times and new problems.

As a nation we have arrived at a place where workers are not unreasonably looking to take some holiday, and some are willing to take those holidays abroad.  A week ago, an employee could holiday in Spain and return, hopefully relaxed and get back to work.  Now, anyone returning from Spain will have to quarantine for fourteen days. 

Herein lies the problem. In many businesses, quarantine will mean the loss of earnings for those members of staff who cannot work from home. It is reasonable to assume that for some, the need to earn would outweigh any perceived risk from Covid-19, and they would ignore the order to isolate. 

What can an employer do to prevent employees ignoring the quarantine?  The presence of a potentially infected employee could have a devastating impact on a business already reeling from the effects of the first wave of the pandemic.

One solution would be to pay for quarantine absences. However, businesses already hit by the pandemic may struggle to do so.

Can an employer control where its staff go on holiday? Can they interrogate their staff about where they have been? The employees’ right to a private life would suggest not. 

One solution, although less than perfect, is to make all staff aware, in writing, of the seriousness of the situation.  If any member of staff goes on holiday to a destination that requires a period of isolation on return, they must isolate, even if that means losing income for the period of isolation.

The risk to the business of potentially exposing other staff to infection is so great that it is appropriate to warn all staff of the possibility of disciplinary action, even dismissal, should it emerge that they were actually in Magaluf for two weeks and not Carlisle as they claimed.

It is not a cast-iron guarantee that all staff will act appropriately, but it conveys the absolute importance of not jeopardising the health of their fellow employees and, potentially, the future of the business itself.

Some government ministers appear to put too much stock in common sense, and we think that businesses are entitled to give common sense a helping hand.

If you would like to discuss this, or any other issues arising from the current situation, please contact us.

For more specific information or to discuss your requirements please call either Amanda Galashan or Julie Calleux at Employease on 03339398741, or email us at This note does not constitute legal advice on any particular situation you may have.

Copyright: Employease 2020

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