Now that England is out of Lockdown 2.0 the belief that Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) employees should shield seems to have passed.
This presents a number of issues for employers. Specifically that their employees may still feel uncomfortable coming to work, but yet the guidance has suggested that unless they receive further written communication from the Department of Health & Social Care that they should be returning to work, if that’s where work takes place.
So what does the guidance say?
The guidance states that in the future the Government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time.
This will only apply to some but not all Tier 3 areas and will be based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
The Government has said it will write to employees seperately to inform them that they are advised to shield. It specifically states that the employee is not advised to follow shielding advice again unless they receive a new shielding notification.
In relation to work the guidance states that if you cannot work from home, you can still go to work in all tiers.
What can you do if you are an employer?
Have a chat with anyone in the category that you have previously furloughed or has been off work on SSP.
- Do they understand the new guidance and how it relates to them?
- Do they have any questions?
They may very well need to understand your COVID secure measures. Always share these with employees. You have a duty of care towards them but equally they have a duty towards themselves and others, so understanding the measures in place is an important part of this. If they remain nervous can you do any more to support them to return to work. Remember those who are CEV may also be defined a disabled under the Equality Act 2010. You do not want to told you have discriminated because you have failed to make any reasasonable adjustments.
Finally what if they do not agree with the Governments position?
They may feel that regardless of the Government’s position they do not want to return, as we have been told many times during the pandemic, “until this virus is over”. For one you need to understand what this means. Do they wish to take a period of leave from work and is this possible?
A period of unpaid authorised leave will still accrue annual leave.
What you need to relay is that you have work for them to do and the Government’s position is that they are safe to return to work so long as you have COVID secure measures in place.
It is common for people who do not like such a position to ask their GP to sign them off, this may be expected in some circumstances. Be prepared for this.
If you need any assistance with any aspect of managing employees during the pandemic, please call us on 01527 909436.