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Employer AdviceAugust 25, 2021by Andrew James CaldwellHere’s How to Manage Employee Travel During COVID-19

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Travel restrictions have eased.

Fully vaccinated travellers don’t have to quarantine any longer on return to Canada. They are also exempted from the Day-8 testing requirement. So, they can return to work immediately once they are back in the country.

While this may be a relief for employees looking forward to using their vacation leave before the year ends, it puts employers in a tough spot.

Those fully vaccinated can still contract and transmit COVID-19. Though fully vaccinated travellers have to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test result on arrival, they could potentially catch the virus during the flight or at the crowded airport and bring it into the workplace.

This may lead many employers to wonder how to best protect their workplace and manage employee travel during COVID-19.

Can I prohibit my employees from taking a vacation?

No. You cannot stop your employees from going on a holiday. They are free to use their vacation entitlements any way they like, including travelling outside of Canada.

But you can require that your employees provide you sufficient notice of their travel plans. They must also follow government guidelines on travel such as quarantine (for partially or unvaccinated individuals).

Can I ask my fully vaccinated staff to stay away from the workplace after they return from a vacation?

There is no law or government directive that allows employers to prohibit employees from returning to the office for any period of time after travelling. If you do so, you may expose yourself to lawsuits such as a constructive dismissal claim.

An alternative to such a drastic and risky step would be to request the employee to temporarily work from home upon their return.

Another solution could be requesting a negative COVID-19 test from the employee before they join the workplace.

How do I accommodate unvaccinated or partially vaccinated staff who have to quarantine after travelling?

Travel restrictions, including a 14-day quarantine, are still in place for partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

You may want to require your unvaccinated or partially vaccinated staff to provide notice of their travel plans in advance. However, they may not be able to take sufficient time off to include the time they need to quarantine.

While you don’t have to give paid time off to employees for quarantine, there are some ways you could accommodate them. For instance, you could allow such employees to work from home. This way they won’t miss two weeks of work (and pay) while in quarantine.

But if despite a company policy requiring them to do so, an employee doesn’t notify you about their international travel plans and the requirement to quarantine on return, you may bar them from coming into work until their quarantine is over. You may also discipline such an employee for missing work.

Do you need help creating a COVID-19 travel policy for your workplace?  

Peninsula’s experts can help you develop company policies and with any HR, health and safety or employment advice you may need. To learn more about how our services can benefit your small business, call us today at 1 (833) 247-3652.