As we face the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the CIPD is collating and publishing updated resources to support your response
What is shielding?
‘Shielding’ is a means to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with the coronavirus, by minimising all interaction between them and others.
Government guidance (released 11 May) attaches an Annex B which summarises vulnerable groups who should be ‘shielding’:
- Clinically extremely vulnerable: People with a great risk of severe illness eg those who have had transplants, on chemotherapy or with renal failure. This group are shielding and must stay at home at all times until at least the end of June.
- Clinically vulnerable: People over 70, those with liver disease or diabetes. Pregnant women. This group are not shielding but should stay at home as much as possible and minimise contact with others outside household.
- Vulnerable: Children at risk of abuse or with SEN, women at risk of domestic violence. This group follow general guidance unless also clinically or extremely vulnerable.
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should:
- not leave their homes
- minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household.
More information and guidance on shielding is available on the Government website.
How to support employees following shielding guidelines
Employers should be aware of the entitlements of employees who are shielding and consider:
- Employees who are shielding can work from home, in which case they will be entitled to their normal pay. If this is not possible, they can be placed on furlough even if there is work for them to do. This also applies to employees who need to stay at home with someone else who is shielding. More information is available in our employer response guide and in the FAQ: ‘When do employees need to complete self-certification forms and when is statutory sick pay applied?’
- Employees who are shielding are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for every day they are unable to work (although the shielding must last for a minimum of four days in addition to the other eligibility requirements for SSP). More information is available in the FAQ: ‘Are employees who are shielding entitled to Statutory Sick Pay?’
- If needed, the employer may ask to see a copy of the employee’s shielding letter. More information can be found in the FAQ ‘Do employees need a medical certificate?’. Take care that any information about the employee’s medical condition is kept confidential, unless the employee says it can be shared.
- Employers can place employees who are shielding on furlough even if there is work for them to do; the Government advice supplementing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has confirmed that employers can claim the furlough grant for shielding employees; they do not have to be placed on sick pay. Employees who need to stay at home with someone else who is shielding are also covered. More information is available in the FAQ ‘Can we place employees who are shielding on furlough even if there is work for them to do?’ in the ‘Selecting employees for furlough’ section.
- High-risk employees who are shielding and live alone may feel especially vulnerable/lonely. Employers should take extra care to contact these employees to enquire after their well-being and keep them updated with company news and developments. Watch our webinar recording on looking after remote teams for more information.
- Employees who are shielding (and those living with people who are shielding) have extra protections when it comes to planning a return to the workplace. For more information see the FAQ What do I do about people returning to work that are shielding or living with people who may be shielding?