Britons caught out by the last-minute addition of Spain to the UK’s quarantine list are being left out of pocket after being forced to isolate for 14 days upon their return.
Employers are under no obligation to pay staff while they are in quarantine, self-employed workers will be forced to give up jobs – and some people could even face the sack if they have to isolate when returning home.
The shock decision to enforce a 14-day quarantine was imposed with five hours’ notice and left tens of thousands of tourists unable to return home before it kicked in.
Employment barrister Grahame Anderson said: ‘If you come back from Spain today and your boss says you have got to be in work on Monday, there’s not a great deal you can do if they say ‘well if you don’t come in, I’m not going to pay you’. And if you haven’t been there for two years, you’ve got very little protection against being dismissed as well.’
Among the victims is a British tourist in Spain who runs the UK charity Mask Our Heroes which provides personal protective equipment to frontline workers.
Emily Woods told ITV’s This Morning: ‘We came out Thursday. We were checking government guidelines and there was no sign of restrictions being imposed.
Self-employed IT technician Nick Madeley, 41, pictured with his wife wife Alison, 49, and five-year-old daughter Ellie. He is returning from Majorca to East Midlands Airport today, but is now having to pay contractors to take on his jobs because he can no longer complete them
‘We travelled very safely and I know a lot about PPE – I run a PPE charity. We were picked up at the airport and we were taken to our friend’s villa and we were faced with being in lockdown for two weeks. This will restrict the work I’m doing.’
Self-employed IT technician Nick Madeley, 41, who is returning from Majorca to East Midlands Airport today, said he was having to pay contractors to take on his jobs because he will no longer be able to complete them while in quarantine.
Can your employer refuse to pay you if you have to quarantine?
Legal experts have warned some people could lose pay or even face the sack if they have to quarantine when returning home.
They said it was important people know about the lack of employment protections they have if they follow the rules imposed by the Government.
Employment barrister Grahame Anderson said: ‘If you come back from Spain today and your boss says you have got to be in work on Monday, there’s not a great deal you can do if they say ‘well if you don’t come in, I’m not going to pay you’.
‘And if you haven’t been there for two years, you’ve got very little protection against being dismissed as well.’
The official UK Government website states: ‘You cannot get SSP if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.’
However it says that you can claim statutory sick pay of £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks if you a) are self-isolating because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms; b) have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus; or c) ‘shielding’ at home because you are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Mr Madeley, of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, has been on holiday with his wife Alison, 49, and five-year-old daughter Ellie.
He told MailOnline that the family had a holiday cancelled to Madeira so we followed Foreign Office advice and changed to Santa Ponsa in Majorca knowing they would not have to isolate upon return.
Mr Madeley said: ‘We’ve all had a great holiday and also stuck to the rules regarding face masks and sanitisation and we have felt very safe.
‘But it’s my daughter I feel sorry for. Having gone through lockdown stuck at home patiently abiding by the lockdown rules, then slowly getting back into school, this holiday was our little bit of normality that we’ve worked hard for.
‘And now we all have to quarantine and lose out on another two weeks summer holidays where she can’t go out and do things we were planning on doing.’
He added: ‘I am self-employed and I am due back into work the day after we get back. Now I cannot and have been seeking other contractors since the announcement to complete my work now, at my expense, whilst I will be in quarantine.
‘I didn’t take the decision lightly to go abroad and could have quite easily had a refund, but that wouldn’t help our economy like the Government want us to do.
‘Now I feel like we’re being penalised for it. I understand we have to react to outbreaks, but the whole of the UK isn’t out of bounds to people travelling in just because of Leicester etc.’
Another tourist, Jan Keegan, told MailOnline she returned with her family from the Canary Islands last night and is ‘extremely frustrated’ at the quarantine.
She said: ‘Overnight it went from mainland Spain to the Canaries, which seems crazy as their cases are so low.
‘It doesn’t impact so much on me as I am a key worker working from home but my husband is a HGV driver and has only just returned to work after being furloughed.
‘We would not have gone away knowing about the quarantine as we are unsure how this will impact on my husband’s wage and of course the inconvenience to the firm he works for. We are praying they revise the quarantine for the Balearics and the Canaries. ‘
Laura Martin, 27, an au pair living in London, arriving back at Heathrow Airport from Madrid today. She said, although the family she works as an au pair for looked at ‘other solutions, like a hostel’, she will spend the two weeks self-isolating with a friend
Tony and Yolanda Schofield, from Leamington Spa, flew into Heathrow Airport from Madrid this morning. The couple flew to Spain from Mexico, where they had been ‘self-isolating’ for eight weeks, Mr Schofield said.
‘We were surprised at the final bit of having to quarantine from Spain, although we knew we would have to, coming back from Mexico,’ he said. ‘It has been very smooth, very easy.’
Asked about the two-week quarantine, Mr Schofield called it ‘necessary’.
Mrs Schofield added: ‘For us it’s OK because we don’t have to go to work. We’ve kind of planned it really to do that, and we’ve got somewhere to quarantine.’
Laura Martin, an au pair who lives in London, is unable to return to work for 14 days due to the quarantine on arrivals from Spain.
Tony and Yolanda Schofield, from Leamington Spa, flew into Heathrow Airport from Madrid this morning. Asked about the two-week quarantine, Mr Schofield called it ‘necessary’
The 27-year-old flew into Heathrow Airport from Madrid, where she was visiting friends and family. ‘The quarantine is not a problem. I think it’s just for people’s safety,’ she said.
She said, although the family she works as an au pair for looked at ‘other solutions, like a hostel’, she will spend the two weeks self-isolating with a friend.
One woman, flying to Madrid from Heathrow Airport to visit friends for two days, said she felt ‘horrible’ about the prospect of having to quarantine for two weeks on her return.
Giving her name only as Maria, she said: ‘I feel horrible. I get it’s for safety and everything, but if people are already taking measures then I think it’s so much of a hassle.
Tamara Golan, who is now having to isolate with her husband after returning from Spain, said at London Heathrow Airport that travellers were being ‘left in the lurch’
‘I’m going to be there for just two nights, barely three days, so it’s not even a long time.’
The woman, who works in business and is from Reading, says she will work from home when she returns, adding: ‘If it would have affected my work, I would have to cancel the flight full stop.’
Tamara Golan, who is now having to isolate with her husband after returning from Spain, said at London Heathrow Airport that travellers were being ‘left in the lurch’.
She told Sky News: ‘If we had been given time, three days ago they would have said, probably on Saturday and Sunday we are going to institute a new quarantine policy, we might have made different plans.
‘And I think there’s so many people who have just been sort of left in the lurch right now, and it feels like the Government isn’t acting responsibly.’
Speaking at London Heathrow Airport, air passenger Chantelle Fourriles told Sky News: ‘We missed our connection, so now we have to put up with this situation.’
Some delayed passengers missed their transfer in Madrid – and would have avoided the quarantine had they been hours earlier.
Speaking at Heathrow, Chantelle Fourriles told Sky News: ‘We missed our connection, so now we have to put up with this situation.’
Another passenger at Heathrow, Jack Winter, said: ‘I purposely moved my trip from Portugal to Spain because Portugal was on the no-fly list, and it’s completely swapped, so that’s doubly sucker-punched me a little bit.’
The decision to take Spain off the ‘safe list’ of quarantine-free destinations followed a surge in cases last week. The move, which came barely two weeks after quarantine restrictions were lifted in Spain, left the travel industry in shock.
The prospect of travellers to France suffering the same fate was raised yesterday when the country’s prime minister said ‘localised lockdowns’ may be imposed if infections continue to rise.
Another passenger at Heathrow, Jack Winter, said: ‘I purposely moved my trip from Portugal to Spain because Portugal was on the no-fly list, and it’s completely swapped, so that’s doubly sucker-punched me a little bit’
One doctor learnt of the new rules three minutes after touching down in Malaga on Saturday – and opted to fly straight home yesterday because he couldn’t afford a fortnight off work on top of the holiday time he had booked.
Dr Andras Szigeti, who spent £600 on the trip to Malaga with his partner, had been looking forward to a break after working throughout lockdown.
Instead after one night there he will have to self-isolate at home in Chelmsford, Essex, and return to work in two weeks.
‘Since I am a private doctor and I am the main breadwinner in the family, I cannot allow myself to lose half of my monthly salary,’ he told the BBC.
Dr Szigeti, whose LinkedIn profile says he is an optometrist for a high street optician, and his partner booked the trip as an alternative to visiting family in Hungary, which has imposed entry requirements for those arriving from the UK.
Becki Gorman (right, at Manchester Airport), 36, from Blackley, Manchester, pictured with Keeley Gorman (left) and baby Mia, ought to have been returning to her job as a store manager today after 12 days in Benidorm but will now be at home on unpaid leave for a fortnight
NHS worker Peter Anderson, 49, returning from Marbella, believes he would be eligible to go straight back to work but instead faces taking two weeks off because of his wife Gaynor’s home-based job.
‘My wife works for a self-catering holiday firm,’ he said ahead of flying from Malaga to Liverpool with his wife and son Thomas, six, before returning home to Windermere, Cumbria.
‘She won’t be in a position to do her job properly and keep an eye on a six-year-old running around the house. I’m going to have to take time off work to look after him.
‘Our son was supposed to be going to a kids’ club for three days this week and won’t be able to now. ‘
Mrs Anderson, 47, said: ‘We should have got more notice, 24 to 48 hours at least, so we could have had more time to sort out alternatives.’
Veterinary nurse Gemma Vilanova (left, at Manchester Airport), 28, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was due to start a new job at a surgery today after visiting family near Barcelona
Veterinary nurse Gemma Vilanova, 28, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was due to start a new job at a surgery today after visiting family near Barcelona.
Instead, after flying back yesterday, she faces having to tell her employer that she can’t start for another fortnight.
‘Because I’m not a key worker, I’m going to have to quarantine,’ she said. ‘It is just unnecessary hassle.’
She said she saw little evidence that immigration staff were checking that arriving passengers had complied with the requirement to register where they planned to self-isolate, adding: ‘The safety measures aren’t very strict.’
Becki Gorman, 36, from Blackley, Manchester, ought to have been returning to her job as a store manager today after 12 days in Benidorm but will now be at home on unpaid leave for a fortnight.
NHS worker Peter Anderson, 49, of Cumbria, believes he would be eligible to go straight back to work but instead faces taking two weeks off because of his wife Gaynor’s home-based job. They are pictured at Malaga Airport with their son Thomas before flying to Liverpool
‘We were having a meal in a restaurant when we found out,’ she said. ‘I tried to change the flights but the only one I could find landed just after midnight so it was pointless.
‘There is no way we’d have gone if we then had to spend 14 days at home. This doesn’t help anyone.’
Calling for statutory sick pay for those now having to quarantine, Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told BBC Breakfast today: ‘We are now asking people to come back from abroad and isolate for 14 days.
‘Yet if you have a look at the Government website this morning on qualifications for statutory sick pay, it will tell you that you’re not entitled to statutory sick pay if you are isolating or self-isolating for the sole reason that you have just returned from abroad and not for any other reason.
‘Yet at the same time the Government seems to be telling us that people won’t lose out because they’ve got to rely on the goodwill of employers
‘Now that’s just not a satisfactory situation and evidence that this should have been fully thought through.’
Asked if people should receive statutory sick pay if self-isolating after returning from abroad, Mr Thomas-Symonds said: ‘Of course people should be offered whatever it takes that they don’t lose out, and that’s what the Government has previously been saying.’
Health minister Helen Whately told Sky News that people should work from home if they are returning from Spain – and urged employers to ‘be supportive’.
** Are you now in quarantine in Britain after returning from Spain? Please email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org **
Q&A: How Britons are now being told not to go on holidays to Spain
What is the new travel advice?
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against all non-essential travel – such as holidays – to mainland Spain. This does not apply to the Canary Islands or Balearic Islands, writes Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Editor.
What about quarantine?
Those returning from mainland Spain, plus the Canary Islands and Balearics, are now required to go into 14-day quarantine on return to the UK.
Why have the rules changed?
There has been a spike in cases around Barcelona, Zaragoza and Madrid.
Why are the Spanish islands included in the isolation rules?
It is not clear. The Spanish government and Britain’s travel trade body, ABTA, argues it is not necessary. They point out that infection rates on these islands are low. However, one British tourist tested positive in Lanzarote last week. British officials are concerned that if the islands were exempt, a loophole would allow Britons in Spain to fly home via Majorca and escape quarantine.
Will restrictions now be applied to other countries?
Fears of a second wave in Europe have created a risk of further restrictions. France, Belgium, Germany and Croatia have seen increases, but ministers say rule changes are not imminent. Sources said Belgium and Croatia are on the ‘watch list’. Hong Kong saw the highest daily new infections on Saturday – about 130. Other countries such as India, Romania and Bulgaria, where restrictions are already in place, are also seeing increases.
What are my refund rights?
If you have booked a package holiday in mainland Spain, your tour operator should cancel the holiday. You can then claim a full refund. There are no automatic cancellation and refund policies for the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands and some operators may not cancel. In these circumstances, families who choose to cancel will not be legally entitled to a refund. Some tour operators have suggested they may allow cancellations and refunds.
What if you book flights and accommodation separately?
There is no right to cancel and claim a refund when elements of holiday are booked separately, rather than as a package.
Can travellers cancel or get a refund on flights?
There is no automatic right to a cash refund. Ryanair, BA, easyJet, and Jet2 will continue to run their flights to Spanish airports. Travellers may be offered a voucher to the value of the ticket or a chance to rebook if they wish to cancel.
What about accommodation?
If a hotel or villa remains open and available, there is no legal right to cancel and get a refund. Some booking websites, such as Airbnb and Booking.com, do offer last-minute cancellation on some listings.
Will insurance policies cover flights and accommodation?
These are unlikely to be covered by travel insurance if the policy was bought after March 10, when most insurers removed cover for Covid-19-related cancellations.
What happens if Spain announces local lockdowns?
Tour operators will cancel holidays and you will be entitled to a full refund.
What are the rules for those returning from Spain?
Travellers arriving into England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland must all go into quarantine. They must fill in a form to provide an address where they will self-isolate for 14 days. They can be fined £100 for failing to fill in the form. One in five eligible passengers will be called or texted to check they are following the rules.
What are the penalties for those who ignore the rules?
A fine of up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and £480 in Scotland. Fines can rise to £5,000 for persistent offenders.
Are those in quarantine entitled to financial support?
No, they aren’t, and there is no automatic eligibility to statutory sick pay, unless they meet the conditions – for example, if they are displaying coronavirus symptoms.