The Government says there will be no sick pay for those forced to quarantine for 14 days after coming back from Spain.
The rules were suddenly changed at the weekend meaning anyone currently in Spain, who expected to be able to go back to work when they return to the UK, will instead have to stay home for a fortnight.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice has also been update to advise against all non-essential travel to Spain and its islands.
The move means people returning to the UK won’t get any Government support for having to take an extra two weeks off work.
They will also not be able to be furloughed as that scheme is now winding down – meaning companies will have to decide whether to give them two weeks off paid, or unpaid.
They could also insist people use another two weeks of their annual leave.
The Government’s website explains: “You cannot get SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.”
The Government has urged companies to ‘act within the law’.
According to Peninsula Group: “Forced unpaid leave UK can take place. However, you must be very careful.
“As an employer, you can force an employee to take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work available for them—commonly known as laying an employee off.
“However, your right to do this must be pre-established with a contractual provision in place. Without this, you’ll need to get your employee to agree to the change.
“There’s no limit to how long you can lay-off an employee, but if they’ve been away from work for four weeks in a row, or six weeks within a 13-week period where no more than six weeks are consecutive, then they can apply for redundancy pay and resign from their position.
“If the employee has worked for you for longer than a month, they may also have entitlement to statutory guarantee pay, which is currently £30 per day for a maximum of five days.
“You should avoid asking staff to take unpaid holiday, coronavirus or otherwise.”
Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary, told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “Employers just like employees have got to follow the law and I don’t think you could be laying people off or taking penalties against people for adhering to the law.
“If someone has followed the law in relation to quarantine and self-isolating in the way that they should, they can’t have penalties taken against them.
“You cannot be penalised in this country lawfully for following the rules and the law that’s in place and obviously we expect employers to respond flexibly and in an understanding way to those who, let’s face it, have enforced on them because of the risk that we’ve seen in Spain, those quarantine rules.”
Following this advice, some companies may choose to keep giving their employees normal pay during the period.
But some may insist a fortnight is taken out of their workers’ holiday entitlement.
They may also process it as unpaid leave.