Guidance on Shielding Employees

Millions of people shielding from coronavirus will be advised that they can spend more time outside their homes from Monday 6th July.

People who have been shielding for the last 3 months remain vulnerable and are advised to still take precautions. However, the Government has announced now that these people can now choose to leave their home, if they wish to, if they are able to maintain strict social distancing and minimize contact with others.

Effective 6th July the Government advise that these people can:

  • meet if they wish in a group of up to 6 people outdoors, including those from a different household, but maintaining social distance;
  • no longer need to observe social distancing with others in their household;
  • form a support bubble with one other household. All those in the support bubble can spend time together in each other’s houses, without needing to socially distance.

Unless there is a significant rise in cases, from 1st August the Government advise that the shielding programme will be paused, however this can be reintroduced at any time, in line with Covid-19 statistics. The advice is that people adopt strict social distancing, rather than the full shielding measures which will enable them to go places and see people, if contact with others outside of the household or support bubble is minimal.

From 1st August this means:

  • you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, if the business is Covid-19 safe;
  • children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if eligible, where possible though they should practice frequent hand washing and social distancing;
  • you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise but remain strict with social distancing;
  • you should remain cautious at all times as you are still at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so advice is still to stay at home where possible and if you do go out follow strict social distancing.

Updated information and guidance for those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable will be issued on 6th July and 1st August once the new measures come into force. These dates allow for these people to have a gradual return to normality allowing several weeks in-between to observe any clear changes to hospitalisation or intensive care use if the population rates were to rise.

For those people who are unable to work from home, the prospect of returning to work could be very daunting. Employers are asked to ease the transition for their employees ensuring that robust measures are in place for those currently shielding to return to work when able to do so.

Any employee who is concerned about returning to work once the guidance has eased are encouraged to speak to their employer to understand what measures and policies are in place in relation to Covid-19.

Employees are protected in law for refusing to come to work where they have a reasonable belief that by doing so it poses a serious risk and threat to their health.

Employers are encouraged to show employees that their health and safety is of paramount importance and need to take the time to listen to employees concerns and to take employees through all the measures and changes that have been implemented to ensure their safety at work.

Employers must ensure they have followed the guidance available on social distancing and physical adjustments in the workplace.

It is thought that employers will no longer be able to claim statutory sick pay for employees who are shielding from August and suggests that those shielding will no longer be automatically furloughed from 1st August, so employers will need to decide how to manage those who are still shielding if they do not want to return to work.

Possible options available if an employee is still shielding could include:

  • keeping an employee on furlough if they are temporarily unavailable to work;
  • arrange for an employee to work different hours temporarily, working from home, working in a different department or area or short time working;
  • taking holiday;
  • unpaid leave.

Further information on the changes proposed for August will be released on 1st August 2020.

If you would like further guidance on any of the above please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

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