Traveling during COVID-19 – what you need to know as an employer

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What are the things employers need to take account of when employees are travelling outside of Ireland? 

Employers have raised the issue of employees intending to travel abroad in the short to medium term, despite the Governments advice against non-essential travel. How an employer should best manage such requests will depend on the circumstances and timing. Emphasis needs to be placed on the communication between employees and the employer. Below is some guidance to assist in dealing with such issues.

Do you need to know if a staff member is travelling abroad?

In short, employers have no right to know this information. Under GDPR an employee does not have to disclose the details of their holiday or annual leave.

However, employers with Irish employees should follow the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade country advice guidance for the specific destination, and generally follow the government’s advice to employers. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice. This includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Employers should advise their employees against foreign travel and refer to the government guidelines.

What to do if an employee does travel abroad?

As an employer you cannot prohibit employees from travelling abroad. However, on the employees return to Ireland, they must complete an online Passenger Locator Form with information about where they are staying in Ireland. Failure to do so is an offence under government legislation. All passengers arriving in Ireland must have a negative or ‘not detected’ COVID test (RT- PCR test) taken no more than 72 hours before their arrival. They must quarantine/self-isolate upon arrival (Note – this is subject to change after 19 July 2021). This a requirement by the government. The employer can ask for confirmation from the employee that they have completed this.

If employees can work remotely, the issue of quarantine may not be significant. If an employee is unable to work from home while in quarantine, they can go on unpaid leave and apply for government support during the duration of their quarantine. The Department of Social Protection (DSP) has a range of social welfare payments that they may be eligible for. The quickest way to apply for these is online through MyWelfare. To do this they will need to create a MyGovID account. The employee will also need a Personal Public Service (PPS) number.  The employer can advise the employee to apply for social welfare, however this is ultimately the responsibility of the employee not the employer.

Summary of quarantine measures if you are travelling or returning to Ireland

What are the things employers need to take account of when employees are travelling outside of Ireland? 

From 19 July 2021, Ireland plans to operate the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) for travel originating within the EU and EEA.

A DCC will show if an individual is:

  • Vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Recovered from COVID-19 in the past 9 months, or
  • Has a negative RT-PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before arrival
  • After 19 July 2021 any passenger returning from a green list country, i.e., not on the designated list, with a DDC will not have to quarantine, if that is still in place and will not have to quarantine at home either.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate will only contain necessary information such as name, date of birth, the certificate issuer and a unique identifier of the certificate. In addition:

  • For a vaccination certificate: vaccine type and manufacturer, number of doses received, date of vaccination;
  • For a test certificate: type of test, date and time of test, place and result;
  • For a recovery certificate: date of positive test result, validity period.

After getting a vaccine in an EU country, individuals will receive the EU Digital COVID Certificate either automatically or upon request. The Certificate will be issued by the authorities of EU Member States, which could also be the body that administers the vaccine. It could be a hospital or another health authority, or via an e-health portal. The same principle will work for the test and recovery certificates.










What is deemed as essential travel in and out of Ireland?

Essential business travel covers people whose presence in Ireland is critical to the functioning of a business.

Other essential reasons for travel include:

  • To go to college or school if you have to be there in person.
  • To go with a child or a vulnerable adult to school if they have to be there in person.
  • To go to a medical or dental appointment, or to go to an appointment with someone you live with, or a vulnerable person.
  • To seek essential or urgent medical, health or dental services, or to accompany someone you live with, or a vulnerable person who needs essential treatment.

EU Recommendations:

On 31 May 2021, the European Commission proposed the following update on travel within the EU:

Fully vaccinated persons holding vaccination certificates, in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate, should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine 14 days after having received the last dose. This should also cover recovered persons having received a single dose of a 2-dose vaccine. Where Member States accept proof of vaccination in order to waive restrictions to free movement also in other situations, for example after the first dose in a 2-dose series, they should also accept, under the same conditions, vaccination certificates for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Recovered persons, holding vaccination certificates in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate, should be exempted from travel-related testing or quarantine during the first 180 days after a positive PCR test.

Persons with a valid negative test certificate in line with the EU Digital COVID Certificate, should be exempted from possible quarantine requirements. The Commission proposes a standard validity period for tests: 72 hours for PCR tests and, where accepted by a Member State, 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.

However, despite this the Irish Government is still recommending that citizens avoid all foreign travel until 19 July 2021 as the DDC will not be in operation in Ireland until that date.

Need more help? Voltedge Management team can help you to get advice on all aspects of human resources and management. Email Ingrid at or ring our offices at 01 525 2914.