On 13 August 2020 the Government updated its international travel advice.
With effect from 04:00 BST on Saturday 15 August, persons entering England from France, Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos, and Aruba will be required to quarantine for 14 days on entering the country.
Any staff members who return to the UK from the aforementioned countries from tomorrow, will be required to quarantine for a period of 14 days on their return to the UK. They should contact their line manager as soon as possible on return so that appropriate plans can be put in place to facilitate remote working wherever possible and to identify and make contingency plans for any gaps in service provision.
Please be assured that on this occasion, all members of staff who have undertaken such travel in good faith, believing themselves to be exempt from the requirement to quarantine on their return, will not be penalised in any way and in line with Pay Option 4 (exceptional circumstances) detailed below, will continue to be paid in full during their 14 day period of self-isolation (if options 1 and 2 below are not possible), and will not be required to take this from their annual leave allocation.
Any member of staff who is a registered health professional and has an existing booking for future travel to any country which is not on the travel corridor list, should discuss this as soon as possible with their line manager, again to identify and make contingency plans for any gaps in service provision.
Staff who have made such travel arrangements in good faith, will not be penalised in any way and in line with Pay Option 4 (exceptional circumstances) detailed below will continue to be paid in full during their 14 day period of self-isolation and will not be required to take this from their annual leave allocation.
Nevertheless, you are reminded that the government continues to advise against all but essential foreign travel to countries which are not covered by the travel corridor exemption, and affected staff are strongly encouraged to ensure that they have a full and proper understanding of the implications of this on their travel insurance.
All line managers should urgently review their rotas and staffing plans in light of this change and develop appropriate contingency plans to ensure safe service provision, escalating serious concerns and gaps at an early stage and in the usual way.
The list of countries for which a travel corridor is in place remains under constant review by the UK government and may be subject to change at very short notice – as has been seen in Spain and now France. Staff are asked to be mindful of this when making travel plans this summer.
The medical staffing team are working with affected individuals and specialty leads to ensure that appropriate plans and support are put in place.
All other staff groups
Line managers should contact the recruitment team for specific advice and to ensure that appropriate plans and support are put in place for all affected new starters.
If you need to make new plans for travel outside of Covid-19 travel corridors
All staff are reminded that the following guidance remains in place:
If you find that you need to make overseas travel plans which you consider to be essential, please discuss this in advance with your line manager, so that all requested absence can be covered by your team. Until your line manager is able to provide this assurance on a case by case basis, you are advised not to book any such travel, as the associated leave will need to include a 14-day period of quarantine on your return.
Prospective agreement is required for how your 14-day period of quarantine absence will be managed, which may include paid or unpaid leave, home-working, or time to be made up within an agreed timescale.
If you become unwell
Finally, regardless of whether or not staff are returning from trips overseas, should they experience any Covid-19 symptoms, they must contact occupational health to request a test (swab/PCR) and must not attend work until cleared to do so.
In addition to the main publicised symptoms of a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change in, the normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), a test should be requested if you have other symptoms suggestive of a viral illness such as; hoarseness, non-persistent cough, nasal discharge/congestion, shortness of breath, wheeze, headache, muscle aches and nausea/vomiting/diarrhoea.
It is also necessary to contact occupational health before you start back to work if you were in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 whilst travelling.
Pay options relating to quarantine
The four options below are subject to annual leave being agreed in advance of travel:
Option 1 – The employee can request to work from home for the quarantine period.
Option 2 – If the employee cannot work from home, they can request to be paid as normal and work the time back over a period to be agreed with their manager and before 31 March 2021 at the latest.
Option 3 – The employee can request authorised unpaid leave to cover the quarantine period.
Option 4 – In exceptional circumstances the employee can request authorised paid annual leave to cover the quarantine period, e.g. if the employee has a compelling reason for the travel, for example to attend a significant overseas family event or occasion.
Guidance on how to record each of the options on Healthroster is available here.
The employee can request to their line manager any one or combination of all four options to cover the quarantine period, which the manager will consider alongside the needs of the service.