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Employment Alert – Impact of COVID restrictions on business travel


Impact of COVID restrictions on business travel

What’s happening?

Instead of the previous traffic light system for travel, there is now a two-tiered system:

  1. Red list countries
  2. The rest of the world

Simplified travel measures are in place for countries not on the red list, depending on vaccination status and the country of travel.

Why is this important?

As we get back to a “new normal”, many employers will want to resume business travel.

Some jobs will qualify for travel exemptions. However, this is limited and so if the exemptions don’t apply, workers will need to comply with the relevant travel restrictions in the same way as holiday makers.

Regardless of the destination of travel, employers still have an obligation to maintain trust and confidence and comply with health and safety obligations. Whether or not it is on the ‘Red’ list is irrelevant for these purposes. So, as an example, the dismissal of a worker for refusing to travel to any country could be automatically unfair (and potentially discriminatory) if they perceive the travel to present serious and imminent danger to them or another person.

In addition, any requirements to quarantine before or after travel may unacceptably encroach on the worker’s personal time. Again, an insistence on travel or adverse consequences if they refuse, may inadvertently result in a breach of the employment contract, giving grounds for a claim.

What should you do?

  1. Check foreign travel advice for the countries you want workers to travel to. Consider any self-isolation guidance and whether this will impact on the length of the visit.
  2. Carry out individual risk assessments in relation to each worker’s role and their individual circumstances (e.g. vaccination status, health conditions, age, pregnancy etc).
  3. You should arrange, or at least, cover the cost of any required PCR tests to ensure the worker is not out of pocket.
  4. Check what the worker needs to do on their return to the UK and how this may impact on their ability to perform their role.
  5. Most importantly – consult with the worker and respond to any concerns they may have.

If you need more information please contactus on 0800 2800 421 or email [email protected] to find out how we can help.

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