Can employers prevent staff from going on foreign holidays this summer?
As we enter the summer holiday season, there’s still uncertainty over foreign travel so what does that mean for businesses and their employees?
June 21st has been a date which has been etched in our minds for some time – the day when all Covid-19 restrictions are set to be lifted and when our lives can hopefully get back to the way they once were.
The easing of restrictions in the UK began back in March with the opening of outdoor sports facilities followed by outdoor hospitality in April, and the opening of indoor hospitality, hotels and other attractions from May.
But as many people have already made or are making plans to explore different parts of the UK for their holidays and mini breaks this year, the uncertainty over foreign travel still remains.
With a traffic light system in place countries continue to be monitored on a daily and weekly basis.
For those foreign countries which have been given the green light – holidaymakers need to take a pre-departure Covid test and a post arrival test but they don’t need to self isolate on their return.
People travelling from countries on the amber list have to take a pre-departure test and tests on day two and day eight of their arrival.
So as the traffic lights for different countries are ever changing, can you stop your employees travelling abroad?
The answer really is no. People with booked holiday are entitled to go where they want to and there is nothing legally which allows employers to stop employees from travelling abroad.
But working time legislation doesn’t take hotel quarantine or travel bans into account so as an employer it’s down to you to speak to staff and discuss any concerns you may have over planned foreign trips.
What was initially booked as a one-week holiday could turn into three weeks out of the workplace if there is a need for staff to self-isolate on their return – causing a problem for both the employer and the employee.
Employers can cancel a period of annual leave if they have a legitimate business reason for doing so but need to make sure that the notice of cancellation is at least the length of the leave planned before it is due to start.
However, that should probably be considered as a last resort – particularly if staff have already booked flights and accommodation.
What should really happen as we enter the main summer holiday months of the year is dialogue between the employer and the employee.
We all need a break from work and holidays can help your staff to stay focused and motivated.
It’s still difficult to plan too far ahead but when it comes to holidays either in the UK and abroad this year, employers need to be flexible and come to mutual agreements and arrangements with their employees wherever possible.