Government must give people incentive to quarantine on arrival from Spain, suggests lawyer

27 July 2020, 16:39 | Updated: 27 July 2020, 16:53

Employment lawyer "can't guarantee" you won't be fired for quarantining

By Seán Hickey

As the UK introduced quarantine for people arriving back from mainland Spain, this employment lawyer claimed that people need incentive to stay home.

Sarah Chilton, is an employment lawyer at CM Murray and she was speaking to Shelagh Fogarty about the rights of people travelling back to the UK if their employment status becomes unclear because of the need for them to quarantine.

Shelagh noted that the travel advice from government to this point has been "a total free for all" and the Spanish quarantine is another aspect of that.

"The government were asking people to stay at home if they had symptoms," Ms Chilton said, "but there was no financial incentive to do that because sick pay at that stage didn't extend to self-isolating people."

The employment lawyer suggested that there should be some financial support in place for people having to quarantine upon arrival in the UK. She argued that government "need to think of what structure you can put in place to help people you want to comply."

The employment lawyer said the government need to put more support in place to make quarantine feasible
The employment lawyer said the government need to put more support in place to make quarantine feasible. Picture: PA

Shelagh wondered what can a person do if their boss tells them to come back to work, even if they haven't quarantined. Ms Chilton said that the employee has the right not to go to work but "enforcing that right is very difficult."

"If that person is dismissed, the remedy is to go to an employment tribunal," she said, but this will elongate the process by years and just isn't feasible for many people who need to continue working.

The employment lawyer reiterated that "the government really have to do more than just saying to the employer 'please be flexible' because I don't think it's enough to get people to comply with the rules."

Shelagh wanted Ms Chilton to clarify if "the law is strong enough" to say people's jobs will be protected if they quarantine. The employment lawyer stated that she "can't say you won't be sacked, because you might be."

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