At the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic, around 2.2 million people in England with underlying severe health conditions were asked to Shield by the NHS by staying at home and avoiding non-essential face-to-face contact. Those with severe medical conditions were deemed to be of greater risk to the effects of Covid-19 and therefore were categorised as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’
The Health and Social Care Secretary confirmed that from the 6th July these measures will start to be relaxed and people previously told to shield will be able to gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors and form a ‘social bubble’ with another household.
Further to this from 1st August, those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work, provided their workplace is COVID secure, adhering to the guidance available.
Following this review of the shielding measures, the Government will be writing to all individuals on the Shielded Patient List with updated information on shielding advice and the ongoing support that will be available to them.
Employees unable to work from home may feel uncertain about returning to work and employers are being encouraged to ease the transition for their clinically extremely vulnerable employees, ensuring robust measures are put in place for those currently shielding to return to work when they are able to do so.
To facilitate this return, the furlough scheme or statutory sick pay (unless a Fit Note is issued by a doctor) will no longer be available after the end of July for those employees who are not able to attend the workplace, due to ‘shielding’.
To ensure a smooth transition back to work, we would recommend meeting with employees in advance of their return and carrying out individual risk assessments. It is important to discuss all of the measures you have in place and any additional measures for that employee specifically (if that is deemed necessary), to keep them safe and to listen to and address any particular concerns they have.
The recommended measures are likely to be no different from those that you already have in place for other employees already working in your premises, however, struct adherence to these are key in relation to those who were previously shielding, given the increased risk to those individuals.
Discussing these measures with employees should help to reassure them that they will be safe in the workplace and we would recommend that regular discussions are held with these individuals to ensure they continue to feel this way.
If you have any questions about this please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01302 341 344.
By Louise Turner Dip Mgmt (Open) Assoc CIPD – HR Business Partner