Covid-19: Tricky issues for employers – Covid, Self Isolation and Cancelling Holidays

Posted on: August 26th, 2021

As Covid-19 restrictions have gradually eased, and with the return to the workplace for many, we are now starting to see some common tricky issues for employers as we try to transition back to ‘normal’ working lives whilst continuing to live with the virus.

We have prepared 3 helpful articles to provide some guidance on some of the key issues that employers have been asking us recently.

In this the second of our articles, we will talk about what happens if staff must self-isolate and then wish to cancel holiday they have booked with their employer.

What happens if staff must self-isolate and then wish to cancel holiday they had booked with the employer.

Another increasingly common query is whether employees are able to cancel pre-booked holiday where they have to self-isolate due to having symptoms of the virus, a positive Covid-19 test or because they are a close contact case.

In these cases, whether you can insist the employee still takes their holiday will depend on whether they are actually unwell with Covid-19 or whether they have been in close contact with someone with the virus but are otherwise well. The guidance in this area has been clear that in both circumstances, employees are entitled to receive SSP whether they are ill or not.

However, as things stand it is much less clear cut as to whether those self-isolating but not actually ‘sick’ are entitled to cancel and reclaim holiday that falls within the same period. On the one hand it could be argued that they should be treated as akin to sick as they are entitled to sick pay and not able to enjoy their time off in the normal manner. On the other hand, they are not actually unwell and can still take time away from work to rest (albeit that time will be at home).

The reality is until we get some case law, or the government specifically legislate (as they did in relation to sick pay), it will remain a grey area so certainly one to take advice on if you are thinking of refusing any request to cancel leave on this basis.

If you need any further advice in any of these areas, or are looking for some employment advice generally, please do get in touch with our team, we would be happy to help.