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New guidance on shielding for the clinically extremely vulnerable

Employment Law

As the number of coronavirus case continue to fall, more than 3.79 million clinically extremely vulnerable people in England are able to stop shielding from Thursday 1st April 2021.

The new guidance issued by Public Health England is in line with the government’s COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 roadmap which states that those who are currently shielding can begin following the national lockdown measures alongside the rest of the population. However, they are also advised to take extra precautions to reduce their risk of catching the virus. The government will begin sending out letters regarding the new guidance to those on the shielding list as of 18th March 2021.

Returning to work

The government is advising people to continue working from home where possible however, those that are unable to work from home are able to go to work. Employers are obligated to ensure their workplaces are COVID-19 secure in order to reduce the chances of their employees catching the virus. Additionally, employers must explain the measures they have put in place to keep their employees safe at work.

The clinically extremely should also assess how they will be getting to and from work with the government advising that they should avoid using public transport during the busiest hours such as the rush hour.

Government support after the shielding period ends

The letters that are being sent out to the clinically vulnerable will also outline the government support available after 1st April:

  • Access to Work – The Access to Work grant covers the costs of disability-related extra costs of working that an employer is unable to cover under the standard reasonable adjustments that they are required to provide.
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furlough Scheme) – The scheme was recently extended until September 2021. Clinically extremely vulnerable employees may continue being eligible for the scheme until it ends and whilst the shielding period is paused. However, employers must agree to furloughing their employees.
  • The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – This is another scheme that the government has extended until September 2021. Self-employed workers that are also classed as the clinically extremely vulnerable can continue receiving support or apply to receive support through this scheme.

Changes to Statutory Sick Pay eligibility

The clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from 1st April 2021 if their reasons for receiving the funds were due to shielding. However, if they are eligible to receive the funds if they are sick or incapable of working.

Read more about the new shielding guidance on gov.co.uk

For more information on the new shielding guidance or any aspect of employment law please contact Tim Thompson at Hegarty Solicitors on 01733 295 606 or email tim.thompson@hegarty.co.uk.

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