How to Manage Employees Who Are Self-isolating or in Quarantine

It’s difficult to know how to manage employees who need to self-isolate or quarantine when rules keep changing. The government’s quarantine list changes regularly. And for anyone already travelling when new locations are announced, it can be more difficult.

The conditions for self-isolation include:

  • Anyone who has tested positive
  • If they live with someone testing positive
  • Travelling to a country outside of the ‘air-bridges’
  • Notification by the Track and Trace app
  • Or is displaying symptoms of COVID-19

This puts you, as an employer, in a difficult position. What’s the right thing to do? How can you ensure that employees know the rules?

Update Your Work from Home Policy

Employees who are self-isolating but don’t have symptoms don’t get sick pay. Employees should be offered the option of working from home while self-isolating if it’s possible.

Most companies have the technology to enable staff to work from home. This makes for less disruption for everyone. Employees’ routines don’t get disrupted for another two weeks. And businesses can maintain their productivity levels.

Change Your Holiday Request Policy

Some businesses require employees to give advanced notice when taking annual leave. However, it isn’t always possible for an employee to take additional leave to quarantine if they need to.

With this in mind, consider giving employees the option to book leave at the last minute, particularly if they’re travelling abroad. Then they won’t have to worry about the implications of quarantining on their holiday or their job.

Keep Communications Clear

Clear communications with employees are always important. But at a time like this, when the rules are changing on a near-daily basis, it’s more important than ever.

Send regular updates to your employees so that they understand what the rules are, nationally and within the business. Your staff will know exactly what to expect if they’re considering going on holiday. Or if they have already booked a break.

Look out for the Latest Government Guidelines

Sign up for the government coronavirus mailing list. This will keep you informed of all the latest travel guidelines.

Getting your information from the government is one of the fastest ways to get the latest updates. You can then use this information to keep your employees informed and make any necessary policy changes.

Advise Employees of Government Support Options

The government has brought out new rules which offer financial help to employees who are on low-income jobs, cannot work from home, and need to self-isolate. This came into force on 1 September.

To qualify, the employee must:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19, or received a notification from Test and Trace asking them to self-isolate
  • Comply with the notification to isolate
  • Provide contact details to their local authority
  • Be unable to work from home and lose income as a result
  • Receive Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit
  • Be in an area with high rates of COVID-19.

At the time of writing, this support pays £130 to anyone who’s tested positive and has to self-isolate for ten days. Members of an infected person’s household who have tested positive and need to self-isolate for 14 days get £182. And anyone who’s identified as a contact of someone who’s tested positive and needs to self-isolate will receive £13 per day (up to £182).

Get Professional Advice

If you’re not sure about your policies or if you’re on the right track, it can help to talk to a HR expert outside of your business – such as the HR Dept. Their objective opinion can shape how you tackle situations with your employees that may arise.


Communication is key to managing staff during any quarantine. Keep an eye out for the latest government guidelines. And pass that information on to your employees as soon as you can. If you need to change your policies to fit the new government guidelines, make sure you’ve clearly explained to employees what will happen if they holiday abroad.

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