Self-isolation order hits UK contractors returning from France and the Netherlands

Contractors are being warned they face self-isolation if returning to England from work in France or the Netherlands, as both nations are now off the UK’s travel corridor exempt list.

Since 4am on August 15th, Britons returning from France, the Netherlands, Malta, Monaco, Aruba or Turks and Caicos Islands, have been required to self-isolate for 14 days.

It means not leaving ‘the place where you stay’ as “it can take up to 14 days” for covid-19 symptoms to appear, the government said, after infections in the six destinations spiked.

A shorter self-isolation of 10 days is acceptable for those travellers from the six who spent four days in a country still on the exempt list, before they arrived in the UK, guidance adds.

'All but essential'

But Access Financial, a tax advisory for contractors who work overseas indicated yesterday that very few of those travellers ought to include contractors returning from temporary roles.

“[For a while now] the FCO…advice [has been] against all but essential travel to the Netherlands and France”, said the advisory, picking the two most popular with contractors.

“Travel to France is subject to entry restrictions. [And] the Foreign and Commonwealth office isn’t advising those already travelling in the Netherlands or France to leave at this time.

“But,” added the advisory’s Kevin Austin, “if you are a contractor returning to the UK from the Netherlands or France on or after August 15, you may need to self-isolate on your return.”

'Resident or visitor, the rules are the same'

He added that UK contractors currently in France or the Netherland but awaiting a return flight to the UK should first contact their airline if they have questions about their journey.

“Resident or visitor,” added Mr Austin, Access Financial’s managing director, “if you are travelling to the UK from any country, you must provide your journey and contact details.”

Pointing to an online form, he warned: “You may be fined up to £100 if you refuse to provide your contact details. You may be fined more if you break this rule more than once. And you may also be fined up to £1,000 if you refuse to self-isolate, or you could face further action.”

'No special treatment for business travellers'

As to how that action might come about, the government’s guidance adds that it “will” use the information on the completed, provided form to check that the individual is self-isolating.

Asked if contractors and other business travellers returning from non-exempt countries could expect to be treated differently than ordinary holidaymakers, Mr Austin said they shouldn’t.

“There is no special treatment [based on the purpose of one’s trip],” he said. “Everyone is going to be treated the same, as all UK individuals are equal under the UK's coronavirus laws.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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