Employment Law FAQs
This is an exceptionally difficult and rapidly evolving situation and we wish to reassure members that MDDUS stands ready to assist, advise and support our members. Members should ensure they remain aware of the latest guidance from the relevant government and health departments and follow those guidelines.
What is the situation regarding annual leave?The rules relating to the carrying forward of annual leave were extended in 2020 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The statutory four weeks provided for under the EU Working Time Directive can be carried forward and taken in the two leave years immediately following the year in respect of which it was due where it was "not reasonably practicable" to have taken it as a result of the effects of coronavirus.
Employers are also able to require employees to take a period of holiday by giving them double the difference in notice, so 10 days’ notice is required for a five day holiday period.
If an employee needs to quarantine after a foreign holiday, if they are able to work from home for the isolation period then this may not have an impact on their employment and this is the ideal option for the least impact. However this is not always possible for all roles within a medical or dental practice and homeworking lends itself to some roles better than others. We have also had feedback that IT equipment is in short supply so this is an added hurdle.
You are able to ask your employees to use annual leave to cover the isolation period but if they don’t have sufficient leave then you may have to come to an agreement with the employee using unpaid leave.
Unless the employee is exhibiting coronavirus symptoms then we suggest that the use of statutory or contractual sick pay does not apply in this case.
Those employees who wish to travel to a country where there are quarantine laws to be followed on their return must get this period approved by the practice. As stated earlier, working from home is the best option here but if not possible then additional annual leave or unpaid leave must be applied for. It may not be practical to have an employee out the practice for an additional two weeks so you are in a position to decline an extended period of leave. You should ensure that your annual leave policy is updated and shared around staff so that they know to apply for the leave (including the isolation period) and ensure it is approved before booking any foreign trips. Close
What should I do if an employee needs time off for childcare issues?Employees are entitled to unpaid time off work to help someone who depends on them in an unexpected event or emergency (Emergency Time off For Dependants Leave). This would apply to situations relating to coronavirus, such as if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed. If an employee still requests time off for childcare despite these provisions, there's no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or practice policy or a period of annual leave.
The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. Close
Can staff be forced to have the vaccine?There is current Government consultation for covid vaccines to become mandatory for Healthcare workers in England from 1st April in 2022, following the mandatory obligation in care homes. If this does become a mandatory requirement, then staff who do not have their vaccines and do not have a medical reason for not being vaccinated, will be at risk of losing their job.
For those in Scotland, a practice can encourage and support their employees to be vaccinated but it cannot be insisted upon. Practices should be careful as employees may have reasons for not wishing to be vaccinated that are protected under the Equality Act 2010.