Information for employers

New rules require most international travellers who arrive in the United Kingdom from 8 June 2020 to self-isolate for 14 days. There is an exemption for cross-border workers; however, how this works in practice is not straightforward.


The cross-border worker exemption is one of many. It applies to people who are:

  • employed or self-employed in the United Kingdom and live in another country to which they usually return at least once a week; or
  • employed or self-employed in another country and live in the United Kingdom, to which they usually return at least once a week.

Cross-border workers must still complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours of their arrival in the United Kingdom, but they need not self-isolate.


However, the first complication is that the exemption does not apply to those whose entry point to the United Kingdom is Scotland. This is because there are four different sets of regulations governing the quarantine scheme, and while the regulations for England, Wales and Northern Ireland exempt cross-border workers, the regulations for Scotland do not.

In practice, cross-border workers who either live or work in Scotland and spend fewer than 14 days in Scotland on each trip must self-isolate for the entire time that they are in Scotland.

Second, the information published on 'GOV.UK' for exempt persons is more restrictive than the regulations when it comes to cross-border workers, stating that cross-border workers must provide evidence that they travel between the United Kingdom and the other country on at least a weekly basis (eg, by holding a season ticket).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many cross-border workers have needed to change their travel patterns and may be unable to show that they currently travel between countries at least weekly. Contrary to what the information on 'GOV.UK' suggests, they will still fall within the exemption if they can show that they usually travel weekly, which for some people may mean providing evidence that they routinely did this before approximately the beginning of March 2020.

Information for employers

In order to determine whether the exemption applies, the person's circumstances must be assessed and evidence must show that they are a cross-border worker. This evidence will vary from person to person, but is likely to include documents relating to their:

  • accommodation in the United Kingdom and abroad;
  • employment or self-employment; and
  • travel between the United Kingdom and the other country in which they live or work.

Eligibility must also be reconfirmed periodically as the quarantine arrangements are being reviewed on a three-week basis (with the next review due by 29 June 2020) and what constitutes the person's usual pattern of travel may shift over time.

The situation for cross-border workers is only one example of the complexities of the regulations, particularly with regard to presence in Scotland. Employers should seek legal advice to interpret the quarantine measures and how they may affect their employees.

For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne or Kathryn Denyer at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000‚Äč) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.