During the initial lockdown period in England, the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) were advised to follow shielding guidance. This advised the CEV to remain at home in almost all circumstances, including utilising delivery services for essentials i.e. food and medicine.
Shielding guidance was paused in August in light of decreasing COVID-19 cases and many returned to work, with an appropriate individual risk assessment being recommended.
Despite the Prime Minister’s statement that Government did not want to reintroduce shielding during the new 4-week lockdown period from 2nd December 2020, a new form of shielding has been introduced. This guidance aims to balance the mitigation of risk for the CEV with the deprivation of liberty caused.
What is the guidance for the CEV?
The new shielding guidance, found here, is slightly more relaxed than the previous guidance. For example, this allows the CEV to leave their home for exercise or to socialise with one other person from outside their household, or support bubble, ensuring social distancing and sanitising measures are followed.
Regarding attending work however, the guidance states the CEV are strongly advised to work from home. Where homeworking is not possible, the CEV should not attend work during the ‘new’ lockdown period.
In addition to providing new guidance for the CEV, Government have expanded the definition of the CEV by including further medical conditions. For example, adults with Down’s syndrome are now included, together with the Government providing GPs and clinicians with the ability to classify a patient as CEV based upon their clinical judgment.
As with the initial lockdown period, those classified as CEV will have received a letter from the Government informing them of the advice to follow. This letter can be used as evidence that the individual is classified as CEV.
Where an employee is classified as CEV, employers are strongly advised to discuss and implement homeworking arrangements with them in line with Government advice.
Where homeworking is not possible, employers should consider whether there are any amended duties the employee can carry out from home.
Where amended duties do not provide a solution, employees may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit if they are unable to undertake any work. Employers can, at their discretion, consider paying occupational sick pay, where applicable, or utilising the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in order to support the employee.
It is important to note that those living in a household with a CEV individual do not need to follow the new shielding guidance.
Consideration must be given to the Equality Act 2010 when making decisions that affect a CEV employee’s salary and/or working arrangements in order to avoid the risk of potential claims, including disability discrimination. As a result, employers are recommended to obtain advice in relation to managing the CEV throughout this period and into the future when integration back into the workplace is relevant.
For any further advice regarding the above, please contact a member of the Burnetts Employment and HR team on 01228 552222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that both telephone and video appointments can be arranged.