The Department for Health and Social Care is changing the advice it is giving to those people that are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), in that from 1 April 2021 they will no longer be advised to shield.
As the restrictions ease, the number receiving vaccinations increase and the number of cases continues to fall across all parts of the country, the CEV will no longer be given the advice to shield . They will however be told to ensure they take extra precautions to protect themselves while the virus is still spreading within communities. The advice includes practical guidance on socialising, travel and going to work or school, the full guidance can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
The rules on the lockdown easing still remain critical for everyone to follow. Until the social distancing rules are eased more widely, it is still important to continue to do the following:
- When the rules allow you to meet others outside or inside, keep the number of social interactions low and reduce the time spent in settings where social distancing isn’t possible.
- Regular handwashing is still advised and avoid touching your face
- Continue to work from home, where possible, if you cannot work from home, you should now attend your workplace
Employers need to ensure workplaces have measures in place to reduce the risk of Covid 19 being spread and inform all employees of those measures, keeping them under regular review. If you are in any doubt, carry out a risk assessment on your premises. Some employers may introduce regular testing of employees as part of the return-to-work measures. Employees still may not feel comfortable in travelling on public transport or wish to avoid this during the rush hour so where necessary talk to employees and be flexible to differing needs. Public transport users are still required to wear a face covering unless exempt.
Where employers are found to have not implemented Covid safe working practices the HSE and local authorities can take action to advise, issue enforcement notices, stop certain work practices and also prosecute employers for very serious issues.
From 1 April employees will no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) on the basis of being advised to shield, only if they are sick or incapable of work either due to Coronavirus or other health reasons, subject to meeting the eligibility requirements.
If employees are shielding and aged 16 or over, they should by now have been offered their first vaccine dose. Employees in this position should contact their GP if this is not the case. It is important for employees who have had their first dose to ensure they obtain their second dose when it is due.
As the guidance from the Government on managing the return-to-work process is limited and evolving, if employers are faced with more complex matters or queries, we would advise them to take advice in order to avoid any employment tribunal claims. Centric HR would be happy to help work through any concerns.
For more information on changes to the guidance on clinically extremely vulnerable please contact us here.