Employees returning from abroad - can employers ask for proof of return date to ensure self-isolation compliance?Posted in : Seamus Says - Employment Law Discussion on 3 December 2020 Issues covered: Coronavirus/COVID-19; Travelling abroad; Self-isolation
Q: "If an employee travels abroad for Christmas, can you ask of proof of the date they returned so that you can ensure they have self-isolated for 14 days since return?"
Seamus: Yes. That's an important question because there will be a lot of travel that will happen over Christmas. The basic position is that if they're traveling within a travel corridor that's approved by the government, and you can go on to the government's website to see which countries are not approved, then there mightn't be any requirement to self-isolate.
But certainly, where there is travel to a country that isn't on the green list, as they call it, or that's approved by the government in relation to the travel corridor, I think you are entitled to ask for evidence in relation to when they have returned. Again, that's just a prudent step that that employers should take to ensure that employees are abiding by the period of self-isolation.
I know that there are the various steps that are taken, I think, when entering and leaving a country and coming back into a country again. There are various forms that they have to fill out. But I think that verification of travel can be requested. I think it's a reasonable request.
And in the circumstances that we're living in at the present, if there's an issue in and around that, it may be that the employer simply says, "Well, look, until or unless you can provide me with that, we're not going to be in a position to permit you to return to work". And that may be for a short period of time. Obviously, we know the general position is 14 days for travel whenever you return. I think it's a prudent step also for employers to take.
Scott: Yeah, it makes it difficult. Whether that's a disciplinary issue, probably not. But then does it mean that you're not going to pay somebody? That might depend on whether they can work from home.
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