As the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect us all, the UK government’s continued restrictions on travel means further challenges for UK business.
Self-isolation rules will inevitably cause delays to vital projects and businesses will now also need to consider additional costs linked to travelling to the UK. There is no doubt travel should be delayed or minimised if not necessary but, where new hires from overseas are critical to the operation of the business, this is not always possible.
Here we explore what employers need to know about the current travel restrictions and how this may impact their business.
Employees travelling to the UK
The UK borders remain open, but if travelling from a red list country, your employees must quarantine upon arrival in a hotel and have residence rights to enter the UK - be British, Irish or have a valid UK visa. EU citizens can have status under the EU Settlement Scheme. This means short-term business visits are banned if travelling from a ‘red list country’.
If entering England from a country not on the red list, self-isolation is required for ten days, or the use of the Test to Release scheme to reduce the self-isolation period to five days, with some limited exceptions in ‘very essential’ jobs.
The rules for Scotland are even more stringent, requiring all international arrivals from outside the Common Travel Area entering Scotland to self-isolate in managed quarantine hotels.
The UK government imposed mandatory testing on anyone intending to travel to the UK that must be taken within three days of their departure to the UK and produce a negative result before travel.
What do businesses need to consider?
The main considerations for business is to ascertain the level or type of restrictions that will apply to your employees that will predominantly be determined by the answers to three key questions:-
- Where are your employees travelling from?
- What is their immigration status?
- What is the reason for their travel?
In addition, businesses should factor in mandatory isolation periods, availability of flights and costs for hotels before giving employees the green light to travel.
While Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap to freedom’ was announced this week (Monday 22 February), with the prospect of restrictions being fully eased by 21 June (if all goes to plan), the future for travel is still yet to be seen, with the PM indicating a vaccine passport for international travel being introduced.
For now, what was a simple business decision to permit travel to the UK is no longer the case.
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