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The UK's New Travel Traffic Light System

Who's green and who's not?

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Posted by Roger Eddowes on 31/05/2021 @ 8:00AM

With employees wishing to go on holiday abroad this summer, it is useful to be armed with some insights into travelling and the traffic light system the Government is using at the moment ...

The UK's new travel traffic light system is updated by the Government regularly!

The UK's new travel traffic light system is updated by the Government regularly!

copyright: danilo bueno / pixabay

Now that England, Scotland and Wales have announced international travel is allowed as of the 17th of May, many employers are thinking about the traffic light system.

"Currently, there are few countries on the green list!"

However, there are 43 countries on the red list, with all the others being amber. If one of your employees wants to travel out of the country to a country not on the green list, there are strict rules they must follow.

For amber list countries, the individual needs a negative pre-departure test as well as 2 PCR tests on days 2 and 8 following their return. In addition, your employees will need to quarantine at home for ten days. If they pay for a test themselves on day five, and it's negative, they can end isolation early. That is only in England as 'Test to Release' does not apply in Scotland and Wales.

Green list countries as of 31st May 2021:

  • Australia

  • Brunei

  • Faroe Islands

  • Gibraltar

  • Iceland

  • Israel and Jerusalem

  • New Zealand

  • Portugal

  • Singapore

  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

More countries could be added at the next review!

So, you need to consider if you're prepared for the amount of extra time an employee will need on their return from their holiday and whether they can work from home or not while they isolate. And do you want them to take the private test on day five or stay at home for the full duration of isolation time just to be sure?

The review of the traffic light system takes place every three weeks in England, but Scotland released a new list whenever they need to, and Wales' list is updated every 28 days, or more frequently if required.

The worst thing that can happen is that a country is put on the red list whilst your employee is away, meaning they would need to pay for isolation in a quarantine hotel, which is quite expensive.

"But conversely, the country they are staying in could go green, meaning they will not need to self-isolate on their return!"

It is not advisable to tell employees what they can and cannot do with their annual leave, but both you and they should be aware of your quarantine procedures for amber and red list countries on their return. Can they work from home with an amber country? Can they work from a hotel with a red list country? Can they afford to?

And you must also decide if quarantine time is taken as additional annual leave if they can't work or simply unpaid leave.

Until next time ...

Business Godparent


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About Roger Eddowes ...


Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.

Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.