BOLTON Council staff have been told they may not be paid if they self-isolate after returning from a holiday abroad and they cannot work from home.

Front line staff returning from a country which is not one of the government’s “travel corridor” exemptions and are required to self-isolate for 14 days, may need to book extra time off or not get paid at all for those two weeks.

In an email to all staff last week, employees were told that from August 3, they may be required to take additional annual leave, flexi, or unpaid leave if they are required to quarantine after returning from a foreign holiday.

But this does not apply to employees who were already abroad in Spain or Luxembourg when the government announced these countries would be removed from the approved travel exemptions list.

These workers will receive “special paid leave” if they cannot work from home.

Martin Challender, a spokesman for Bolton Unison, said staff have contacted the union with concerns about the policy.

He said: “Many of our members are key workers who have worked solidly throughout the pandemic. Some have longstanding family holidays booked before the virus and lockdown.

“People understand the need for quarantine, but worried about losing pay.

“We have been in discussions with the council to try to resolve these issues. The government advice is that employers should treat staff sympathetically.”

The region’s Metro Mayors were asked about Bolton Council’s policy at a remote press conference on Monday as they launched a new national campaign, “Time Out to Help Out”, calling for workers to get paid when they are requested to self-isolate under the national NHS Test and Trace system.

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said people need to take some “personal responsibility” for their decisions regarding non-essential travel.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham agreed, but made a distinction between people who travel abroad knowing they will have to self-isolate on their return, and those who have been “trapped” when the advice changes.

He said: “It’s a difficult one, but I think where the advice changes on countries and people, through no fault of their own, are trapped by that, then I think they need more support from their employers and from the government.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, criticised ministers for appearing to be “out of touch” and issuing advice at short notice.

She said: “People work really hard all year to take their family on holiday and the idea that they’re going to be financially hit, when through no fault of their own, they’re required to go into quarantine on their return, I think this is where everybody has to step up a bit, including the government, rather than just leave it to hard-pressed local authorities.”

Bolton Council confirmed that if an employee has to self-isolate because they or someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms, or if they have been told to by contact tracers, they would still be paid if they cannot work from home.

A spokesman said: “We are applying the same principles for all employees to ensure we maintain consistency across the council, especially as staff employed in front line services cannot work from home.

“We understand that some people may think this is unfair, but we are trying to be consistent and flexible as possible.”