Coronavirus: holidays abroad should be encouraged, say experts

Flying off for a well-earned break can provide a welcome boost to staff morale

UAE businesses should have no qualms about allowing staff to travel outside the country on holiday, workplace experts have suggested.

Consultants said time off abroad could provide a welcome boost for employees following many months of working from home.

Under new guidance issued by Dubai authorities, residents no longer need to take a Covid-19 test before they travel.

Holidaymakers will instead be tested on returning to the emirate, with those found positive required to quarantine.

“People are so fed up of staying indoors and staying in the heat in the middle of summer that the one thing they are looking forward to is going on vacation,” said David Mackenzie, managing director of recruitment firm Mackenzie Jones in Dubai.

“It’s a very nice win for companies if you let them go. Obviously if they are going to high risk countries then the employer needs to know about it.”

It’s been a tough few months and people definitely deserve a break.

James Collin, managing director of Stanley Mac.

The UAE has tested around 3.5 million residents for Covid-19, with more than 50,000 people found to have contracted the virus.

Like the rest of the world, thousands of employees have been working from home since March as governments fought to bring the pandemic under control.

Now, as travel restrictions and other measures are relaxed, more people are considering travelling abroad for some well-deserved time off.

Many expatriates have not been able to see their families for some time, making a holiday to their home countries all the more welcome.

“It’s been a tough few months and people definitely deserve a break,” said James Collin, managing director of recruitment firm Stanley Mac in Dubai.

“Any anxiety about travelling abroad is less at a corporate level and more from individuals.

“It’s vital though to keep up to date with the advice from health professionals in countries you are travelling to.

“Most companies have successfully adopted remote working conditions in recent months.

“Allowing staff to work remotely from laptops had never been tested to this extent before.”

Claire Donnelly, from HR consultancy MHC Consulting in Dubai, struck a more cautious tone on staff holidays, however.

She said some businesses may need all hands on deck as companies sought to begin operating on a more normal footing.

“Companies need to ask themselves if they should let people take a holiday as they are scrambling to get their businesses back together,” she said.

“A lot of companies are still keeping staff on half pay. They’ve got to recover and need to be at full strength.

“My strong counsel is that [travel is] at the employee’s own personal risk. It’s advisable to find out if a company has a Covid-19 policy before booking anything.”

Mr Mackenzie agreed that all staff should carefully consider relevant travel guidance before leaving the country, but that taking a holiday should not be discouraged.

“Nobody goes out there to [deliberately] get Covid-19,” he said. “The reality is if they go on leave and they contract it they are covered under our medical.

“One of our team is not able to come in the office because his brother just came back from the UK. He is having to work at home in a quarantine situation because he lives with his brother.”

Amy Beere, who works at Mackenzie Jones, is planning to travel to Sri Lanka. Reem Mohammed / The National
Amy Beere, who works at Mackenzie Jones, is planning to travel to Sri Lanka. Reem Mohammed / The National

Amy Beere, 31, who works for Mackenzie Jones as a consultant, said she planned to travel to Sri Lanka in August.

“I am not particularly worried,” she said. “You can only stay at hotels that have been approved by the health authorities and the number of cases there have been quite low anyway.”

Updated: July 6, 2020 10:00 AM


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