The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has reimposed strict measures amid an increase in coronavirus cases in Spain. Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands – which includes holiday hotspots Ibiza and Majorca – and the Canary Islands, are covered by the quarantine rules and the FCO is advising against all but essential travel. The strict new rules were imposed just six hours after the news emerged, meaning a number of holidaymakers already in Spain will need to quarantine on their return to the UK. But, what options are available for those returning home to quarantine?
Can I claim Statutory Sick Pay if I need to isolate after my Spain holiday?
The official advice from the Government states that you are not entitled to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are self-isolating after returning to the UK.
The Government is, instead, relying on the goodwill of employers to see their workers through the two-week period.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said no employees should be penalised by their bosses for having to isolate at home.
Mr Raab said: “We are changing the rules – the law is changed in relation to holidaymakers and travellers – and of course we expect employers show those employees who will have to quarantine because of the law the flexibility they need.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, however, argued that the lack of SSP will make many people feel like they have no choice but to work when they should be isolating.
Mr Ashworth said: “There are a whole raft of people who cannot afford to isolate because of the circumstances of their employment.
“And, if it comes to a choice between putting food on your table and feeding your family or losing your job, you’re going to put food on your table aren’t you? Even if that means you are spreading the virus.”
The Government’s guidance towards Spain changed when a surge in cases was reported in a number of regions in the country, particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia – which includes Barcelona.
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Can I claim Universal Credit or employment support allowance instead?
Downing Street said holidaymakers who have to quarantine by law may be eligible to claim Universal Credit or employment support allowance (ESA) instead.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson stressed the Government’s stance that it expects employers to be “flexible” in allowing staff to work from home while self-isolating.
He added: “Where this isn’t possible, we would expect that many employers would have their own policies in place for quarantine and we know that some continue to offer full pay for all or some of the isolation period.
“But if there are people who need urgent support, then they may be entitled to the new-style employment support allowance or Universal Credit.”
Additionally, Downing Street has said workers who lose their jobs due to quarantine requirements following a holiday to Spain could appeal to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “There are existing systems in place should a dispute occur between an employer and employee, and that is the employee can take the dispute to ACAS for settlement.”
He added: “Unfortunately, no travel is risk-free during this pandemic and disruption is possible, and so anyone travelling abroad should be aware that our travel advice and exemption list is under constant review as we monitor the international situation.”
There are now growing fears that more European holidays could be cancelled or postponed, with concerns more countries will join Spain in being struck off the ‘air bridges’ list.