As an employer, which precautions do you need to take towards to your employees in relation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' latest travel recommendations?

On May 29, 2020, the Danish Government changed its recommendations on travel abroad, which made it possible as from June 15, 2020 to travel to Norway, Iceland and Germany. However, all unnecessary journeys to countries other than Norway, Iceland and Germany and to cities with more than 750,000 inhabitants (e.g. Oslo, Berlin, Hamburg and Munich) remain inadvisable provisionally until 27 June 2020.

From June 27, 2020, the guidelines for journeys to the EU area, the Schengen area and the UK will be updated based on objective criteria varying from destination to destination, which in particular depend on whether the number of infected persons is low.

For journeys to the rest of the world, the recommendation regarding all unnecessary journeys being inadvisable will be maintained provisionally until August 31, 2020.

For that reason, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly urges everybody to go into home quarantine for 14 days after returning as a result of the health authorities' assessment that there will be a significant risk of infection when traveling from such destinations.

How should you react to this an employer?

As a consequence of the Foreign Ministry's recommendations and because it is expected that the Danish Working Environment Authority will demand measures to be taken to secure the employees against risk of infection, the employer should establish measures addressed to employees who travel against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' recommendations. In other words, employees' travel destinations have now – as opposed to previously - become of significant and reasoned interest to the employer.

Therefore, in order to ensure a healthy and safe working environment, it is recommended that, as an employer, you should inform your employees that they must go into a 14-day home quarantine if they defy the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ travel recommendations. The quarantine may be self-paid (unless the employee is entitled to and chooses to spend their additional accrued holidays, if any), but the employee may also be forced to working from home if this is possible and desired by the employer.

If it is not possible or desirable for the employer to offer working from home in the 14-day quarantine period, the employer should then prepare his guidelines accordingly and inform employees clearly that if the consequence of a journey is that the employee will not be able to attend work 14 days after his return, such a choice could have employment law consequences. In other words, a journey in contravention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ recommendations and the employer's instructions on the consequences may be considered as a fundamental breach of the conditions of the employment relation, which potentially may result in a summary dismissal.

If, nevertheless, an employee shows up at the workplace after a journey contrary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ recommendations, the employer will – pursuant to the published guidelines – be entitled to deny the person in question admission to the workplace as the other employees would otherwise be exposed to risk of infection.

Bird & Bird's remarks:

As an employer, you should clearly inform your employees about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' travel recommendations and the employer's guidelines in relation to this as soon as possible and prior to the holiday period so that the employees know the risk in advance by maintaining their summer vacation plans to destinations that are inadvisable.

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