Guidance for employees and employers on self-isolating after returning to the UK.

People returning to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days unless they’re travelling from a country with a quarantine exemption.

A person’s employment rights will depend on their employment status and specific circumstances. A court or employment tribunal will make the final decision on employment status and whether an employer has acted within the law or not.

Working from home

Where possible people should work from home during their self-isolation period. Employees should talk to their employer about working from home before they travel.

Taking annual leave

Employees can agree with their employer to take leave to cover the period of their self-isolation, providing they have enough leave remaining.

Employers can also tell employees to take leave as long as they give them enough notice. Find out about notice periods.

Travel because of family emergencies

Employees may be able to take unpaid leave if they’re forced to travel to deal with an emergency involving a family member or dependent.

Find out about time off for family and dependants.

If you’re out of the country when a quarantine is announced

Employees should talk to their employer as soon as possible to discuss options.


When dismissing staff, employers must do it fairly. Valid reasons include:

Even if employers have a fair reason, the dismissal is only fair if they also act reasonably during the dismissal and disciplinary process.

Dismissal should be a last resort and employers should consider alternative arrangements first, such as agreeing with employees to take annual leave or unpaid leave. Where possible, employers should explore the option for the employee to work from home or to agree work that can be completed from home.

Unfair dismissal

Employees can make a claim to an employment tribunal if they think they have been treated unfairly.

They must have worked for the same employer for 2 years to be eligible to claim unfair dismissal.

A tribunal will consider all the relevant facts around a dismissal. This could include:

  • public health guidance on coronavirus
  • an individual’s behaviour
  • the employer’s circumstances
  • any previous history between the employer and the employee

Employers who dismiss an employee because they have had to self-isolate following travel abroad may be liable for unfair dismissal.

Find out more about making a claim to a tribunal.

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