This week we’ve heard of our first case where an employee who has been shielding has refused to return to work.
As you are probably aware, in England, although the advice to shield has ended, those who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people (CEV) are still advised to follow the rules and take extra precautions to protect themselves. Where possible, everyone who can work from home is still being advised to do so. We expect this to be lifted on 21st June.
However in Early Years we know that very few roles can be performed away from the setting. Therefore for those who cannot work from home, the Government is no longer advising that they do not attend the workplace if they are CEV. However it seems not everyone is keen to come back and who can blame them. If you were told it was unsafe on the 31st March, how would you imagine it would be safe on 1st April.
So what can be done to support the CEV employee?
The employer should first of all look at their COVID Risk Assessment and look to see what it can put in place to keep the employee who is CEV safe.
- Lateral Flow Tests some employers, like us at Redwing have introduced a workplace lateral flow testing station.
- Get advice from HSE. The HSE has some useful advise on protecting vulnerable workers here.
- Is it about confidence. For others its about confidence and if they have been shielding for sometime (not everyone was caught up in the Risk Assessment algorithm) they may need a phased return like anyone who returns from long term sickness absence.
- Access to Work. Employees who are CEV who need support in the workplace can apply for Access to Work. Access to Work provide support for the disability related extra costs of working that are beyond standard reasonable adjustments an employer must provide.
- Have they taken accrued holiday. This could delay their return or be used as part of a phased return to work.
Don’t forget some people who are CEV would also be classed as disabled under the Equality Act 2010. Always look to work with these employees to see what reasonable adjustments can be put in place. When they come up with a suggestion. Don’t be afraid to ask how that would help their disability. It reminds me of the case where an employee who was paraplegic and was travelling for business, requested they travel first class. The employer was found to be reasonable when they asked how first class would help them with their disability when in actual fact they were already travelling business class.
Its worth knowing that from 1st April 2021, those who are CEV are no longer entitled to SSP on the basis on being advised to shield. What has happened in the case we are supporting with is that the employee has been signed off by their GP for anxiety. We now await the Occupational Health Report as to whether this anxiety is caused by work or other factors.
If we can be of any assistance with your CEV employee returning to work, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01527 306066.