We have an employee who has travelled abroad to visit relatives, and he has asked for a further extension of time because he can’t come back yet. We can’t keep his position open forever, what do we do?
If they’re stranded abroad because of Covid-19, it’s likely to be unfair (if they have 2 years’ service) if you discipline them for failing to return to work. Assuming they’re on unpaid leave, the safest option would be to extend this. If they can organise travel home in the next couple of weeks but just doesn’t want to return, you could say you can’t extend the leave and will treat any continued absence as unauthorised. If they refuse to return, you could launch disciplinary action. If they have to quarantine upon return, and can’t work from home, then this would be unpaid leave.
Can I make employees on furlough use their holiday leave?
Yes you can, on the condition that this is either in the contract, or you serve twice as much notice as the time you want them to take. You must pay furloughed employees their normal rate of pay for a period of holiday, rather than any reduced amount you pay to employees during furlough. It is better to put this into writing so all parties are clear.