School staff have been warned by the Department for Education not to travel abroad towards the end of their summer holidays because they will lose pay if they are put into quarantine during the start of term time on their return. This follows the Government warning that there is ‘no risk free travel’ and, with a potential second wave of Covid-19 effecting many countries, quarantine restrictions will be introduced with no notice. Therefore school staff face taking unpaid leave if they get caught up in the newly-modified quarantine rules – with the added problem of staff not being in school to meet the needs of their pupils as they begin the new term following months of home-schooling.
The warning from the Department of Education said that schools should ‘avoid a member of staff having to quarantine during term time’ – which effectively bars teachers from taking a foreign holiday towards the end of the summer holidays. In focused advice to schools the DfE have also said, ‘staff will need to be available for work in school from the start of the Autumn Term’, recommending that ‘school leaders discuss leave arrangements’. Headteachers’ Association, the NAHT, has told their members that they should have a conversation about ‘the potential impact of this Government requirement’.
Employers are under no obligation to pay an employee during quarantine and they are not eligible for statutory sick pay.
This announcement risks sparking another huge row between the Government and teachers’ unions – which now includes a battle between unions and the government over safety measures including whether pupils should wear masks.