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Employees Returning From Portugal: Employers Options (7 June 2021)

With Portugal unexpectedly moving from the Green to Amber list of countries from 4am on 8 June, it may affect your employees’ planned return to work.


Businesses should have clearly communicated to employees before their holiday the approach they will take if the employee is required to quarantine on return. This ensures that employees knew the rules prior to leaving and what will happen on their return.

If your business has not clearly communicated its position this may influence how you deal with the situation this time i.e. with employees returning from Portugal (see below).

We recommend your business clearly communicates the approach it will be taking over the summer months. This should include what will happen if employees go abroad and the country they are in changes listing unexpectedly.

Unless you had clear rules and previously communicated your position in advance of their holiday, you may choose to deal with employees returning from Portugal in a more sympathetic way.

In terms of the quarantine period, you could consider the following:

Work from Home:

Can you facilitate the employee working from home during the quarantine period?

Annual Leave:

Does employee have annual leave they could use for some/all of the quarantine period?

Unpaid/Authorised Absence:

Can you facilitate the employee taking unpaid leave and will this be on an authorised basis?

Disciplinary Action:

If you have not communicated your approach in advance, it may be difficult for your business to take any stronger action against the employee. If you are considering disciplinary action, then we recommend you first speak to the Legal Team.

If you do have clear rules that have been communicated then disciplinary action may be reasonable. However, your business might decide to distinguish between:

  • Employees who knowingly have travelled to an Amber Country when they knew they were expected back at the workplace and;
  • Employees who travelled to a Green Country and the country unexpectedly changed.

What is clear is that you should not allow, or even encourage, any employee required to quarantine to attend the workplace.