From 4am on 30 November, fully vaccinated people arriving in England from overseas must self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR result. Lateral flow tests, which provide results within minutes, are no longer accepted.  

Business visitors will need to remain self-isolating until they receive a negative PCR result, so will have to arrive in the UK earlier to allow for this, prior to any in-person meetings. One of the challenges will be predicting how long a test result will take to arrive, as anecdotal evidence suggests this is highly variable. Worryingly, the government’s guidance anticipates substantial delays in some cases, “If your PCR test results are delayed, you must self-isolate until your test result is known or until day 14 after arrival, whichever is sooner.”

Executives returning from overseas will also now need to self-isolate prior to attending the office or attending other work-related events, which may be inconvenient. Self-isolation may also negatively affect personal and family commitments. Given the practical and personal implications of the extended period of self-isolation, as well as the additional cost of the PCR test which must be obtained privately, I expect that many employers will now reconsider the value of business travel. Depending on the circumstances and personal impact, it may be unreasonable for an employer to expect an executive to travel when they will need to self-isolate for, possibly, several days on return, especially if the period of self-isolation is disproportionate to the length of trip. It may also be indirectly discriminatory, if certain protected groups, such as women, are disproportionately impacted by a period of self-isolation. 

(There are different rules for those who are not fully vaccinated, those returning from Red List countries, and some people are exempt from some or all COVID-19 travel and entry requirements because of their job: read more here.)