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COVID-19: An employer’s guide to the UK quarantine rules

From 8 June 2020, anyone entering the UK (whether as a resident or a visitor) will have to self-isolate for 14 days under new Government rules. The rules are to be reviewed every 3 weeks so please check if there any changes before making arrangements based on the rules.

Requirement to provide information

Upon arrival, individuals will be expected to fill in an online form, providing their contact details and the address at which they will stay for the next two weeks. Certain individuals are exempt from the requirement to provide this data including certain members of diplomatic missions and consular posts, certain defence personnel and contractors or certain officials working on essential border security.  Those travelling from Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are also exempt.

What restrictions apply during self-isolation?

The person arriving in the UK can be picked up at the airport, port or station by friends or family, or can take public transport if they have no other option. Once the individual has arrived at their accommodation, they must not leave for 14 days unless they:

  • need urgent medical treatment;
  • need support from social services;
  • need food and medicine and cannot get them delivered or get a friend or family member to bring them;
  • are going to the funeral of a close relative, or for other compassionate reasons; or
  • there’s an emergency, for example, there’s a fire at the place that they are staying.

Therefore, anyone planning a business visit to the UK would need to factor in this period of self-isolation into the timescales for any visit. Whilst it will be possible to carry out work from the specified accommodation during this period, any site visits etc would not be possible during this time.

Are there any exceptions for certain occupations?

Yes – a full list of the exceptions can be accessed here.

The rules on self-isolation will not apply to seamen and masters, certain health or care professionals, certain oil and gas workers, road hauliers, seasonal agricultural workers (provided that they self-isolate on the farm with other workers) or postal workers involved in the transport of mail into and out of the UK, to name a few.

A key exemption is for frontier workers.  This includes someone who resides in the UK and pursues an activity as an employee or self-employed person in another country to which they usually go at least once a week.   For advice about whether the exceptions apply please contact us.

Are any countries exempt?

The requirement to self-isolate will also not apply to those travelling to the UK from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. It is possible that further arrangements or exemptions may be put in place with specific countries in the future – so called air bridges.

If I am hosting a business visitor to the UK, what do I need to do?

Ensure that they are aware of the requirements and arrange suitable accommodation for them to self-isolate in. The timing of their visit will need to factor in the period for self-isolation. You may also want to check that they have suitable travel arrangements in place once they land in the UK to take them to their accommodation to self-isolate.

If my employees go abroad, will they need to self-isolate for 14 days on their return?

Yes, unless they are exempt from self-isolation under the rules.

If any of your employees are planning any overseas travel for personal purposes, we recommend that you discuss the quarantine requirements with them before they go. If the employee is not able to work from home on their return, you will need to decide what will happen on their return to the UK. Options may include a period of unpaid leave, or a period of extended annual leave to cover the self-isolation period.

What are the consequences of not complying?

In England and Wales, a failure to comply with the new rules may result in a fine of up to £1,000. Possible consequences also include a prosecution or removal from the UK and could potentially impact the ability of an overseas national to enter the UK in the future. The enforcement measures in Scotland and Northern Ireland have not yet been announced.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.


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