Quarantine rules: PCS demands equal rights on annual leave

03 Aug 2020

Following discussions with PCS about the recent unexpected change for quarantine upon return from Spain, DWP responded with a Connect message to all staff on 28 July. DWP has agreed to provide special leave with pay for the period of self-isolation on their return from booked leave if they are unable to work from home.


DWP Policy for overseas travel and quarantine

The DWP message for overseas travel and quarantine issued on 28 July, states:

"Following the recent change in Government advice on travel to Spain, please remember that rules on self-isolation while abroad or on arrival in the UK can alter at short notice. Colleagues might unexpectedly and without notice have to quarantine overseas or be required to self-isolate upon return to this country.

On this occasion, given the unprecedented speed of the decision and as people travelled in good faith under what was then government travel advice, colleagues who were:

  • already in Spain, the Canary Isles or Balearic Islands when that announcement was made,
  • and are unable to work from home on their return from leave,

will be allowed to take special leave with pay for the period of self-isolation on their return from booked leave.

Any colleague travelling to Spain since the announcement should expect to take unpaid special leave or additional annual leave if they are required to self-isolate on their return to the UK – unless they can work effectively from home.

All colleagues should be aware that if you travel anywhere overseas and are then required to self-isolate either overseas or on your return to the UK, this period may need to be taken as annual leave or unpaid special leave unless (for UK quarantine) you are able to work effectively from home.

Please read the HR guidance before deciding whether to travel overseas. Colleagues should also consult Foreign Office travel guidance."

PCS demands equal rights for annual leave

While we welcome the provision of special leave with pay for the period of self-isolation on return from booked leave in Spain, if employees are unable to work from home, the union has also made clear DWP annual leave policy should be equal for all staff.

PCS has pressed DWP to also support members that have holidays booked and will lose money if the travel operator refuses to refund. They should not be left with a choice between losing what might be thousands of pounds, or two weeks pay on their return from holiday.

The current DWP position disproportionately affects members who are in the workplace, who are more likely to be asked to lose pay, leave or flexi under the current policy. We will continue to argue that all employees should be given an equal right to paid special leave, when unable to work from home, during a period of quarantine upon return from annual leave abroad.

Contact your local PCS representative for advice, support and representation when you require any assistance for any issue in your personal case or, if required, escalate the issue to PCS DWP Group Office via: leeds@pcs.org.uk

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