Government Guidance on self-isolating after returning to the UK

With so many individuals being subjected to rules regarding self-isolation after returning from a holiday abroad, the Government has published new guidance for workers and employers on self-isolating after returning to the UK.

Guidance on self-isolating after returning to the UK can be found here.

The Government have confirmed that those who are self-isolating cannot go to work, school, visit public areas and should not go shopping.


When must an individual self-isolate?

Currently, anyone returning to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days unless they are travelling from a country with a quarantine exemption. The list of those exempt countries changes regularly, and we would suggest that individuals keep up to date via the Government webpage outlining travel corridors.


What should happen if the employee is out of the country when quarantine is announced?

The guidance encourages employees to discuss options with their employer as soon as possible. This will include situations where countries with quarantine exemptions have been changed while the employee is in that country.


Can an employee work from home during their self-isolation period?

The guidance states that, where possible, employees should work from home during their period of self-isolation and that this should be discussed with the employer before travelling. If working from home is not possible, it can be agreed that leave is taken to cover the period of self-isolation. However, this will be dependent on whether the employee has enough leave remaining to cover this 14-day period.


Should an employee be paid during self-isolation?

Where an employee is working from home or have taken annual leave to cover the period of self-isolation, they should be paid as usual. The guidance is, however, silent as to whether employees required to self-isolate are entitled to any pay (or statutory sick pay) if they cannot work from home. While the Government has urged employers to be supportive in such circumstances, there is no legal requirement to pay an employee who is self-isolating under the current rules if they cannot work from home. 


Can an employee take time off to travel to deal with family emergencies?

Some employees may need to travel to deal with issues relating to family members or dependents. In such circumstances, employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant (a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent or someone who depends on the individual for care). Where an employee is looking to take longer periods of time off to look after a child, the employer may wish to discuss alternatives such as annual leave or parental leave.


Can an employee be dismissed because they cannot work due to self-isolation?

The guidance suggests that employers should think carefully before dismissing an employee in the circumstances, and it should be treated as a last resort having considered alternatives such as annual leave or unpaid leave. Employees may have a claim for unfair dismissal if they are dismissed because they have had to self-isolate following travel abroad.


Need further help and advice?

If you are concerned regarding your rights or responsibilities in respect of work and self-isolation, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist employment team on 0161 941 4000 or

Click here for Employee Advice

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