Can teachers go abroad on half-term holiday?

Overview

You might already have a half-term holiday booked abroad, visiting relatives in a different country or might be thinking of going on holiday within the UK. As teachers you are limited to when you can take holiday throughout the year, so you will want to know what the expectations from the Department of Education (DfE) and from your school are. 

In this article, we outline guidance from the DfE and GOV.UK, you will also want to check on the current regional restrictions at the time you go away. Currently, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.

Teachers taking leave: what do I need to know?

The DfE has published ‘Guidance for full opening: schools‘ which includes a section on staff taking leave. It explains:

“As would usually be the case, staff will need to be available to work in school from the start of the autumn term. We recommend that school leaders discuss leave arrangements with staff before the end of the summer term to inform planning for the autumn term.”

“There is a risk that where staff travel abroad, their return travel arrangements could be disrupted due to factors arising beyond their control in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19), such as the potential for reinstatement of lockdown measures in the place they are visiting.”

“Where it is not possible to avoid a member of staff having to quarantine during term time, school leaders should consider if it is possible to temporarily amend working arrangements to enable them to work from home.”

This is the latest update from the DfE on this topic, but we will update this article if more information becomes available in the coming weeks.

Can my school stop me from going on a half-term holiday abroad?

Some schools are getting concerned that teachers having to self-isolate after holidays abroad during half-term could affect teaching and have a significant financial impact. 

We’ve published another article, which provides a summary of what to do if you have been told to self-isolate.

In an article on the TES website, law firm Stone King, explains that schools have been getting in touch concerned about their teachers travelling abroad during the October half-term and the risk that they will need to self-isolate when they return if the country they visit is not listed as ‘exempt’, or if it is taken off the list at short notice.

Stone King explains it is being asked if schools can request that their staff do not leave the country during half-term. They explain, as schools are employers, this is not an unreasonable request to make and there is no legal reason that they cannot.

Schools are also asking whether they can treat post-holiday self-isolation periods as unpaid leave. According to Stone King, there is no requirement to pay staff for post-holiday quarantining, although schools could explore alternatives such as home working or annual leave, if feasible.

Can I go for a half-term break in the UK?

The BBC summarises this topic in a useful article. If you live in an area that is not under local restrictions, you can holiday anywhere in England that is not itself subject to local restrictions.

If you live in an area of England with local restrictions, you can holiday outside that area, but you must not stay in private accommodation with anyone from outside your own household or support bubble, or socialise with them in any indoor setting.

If you holiday in an area which faces local restrictions, such as Manchester, you can only stay in private accommodation (such as an apartment) with members of your own household or support bubble.

Further advice and support

If you are an Edapt subscriber, and you are encountering difficulties in regards to taking a holiday abroad during half-term you can contact us for further support and advice.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
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