As we move out of a national lockdown and back into a tiered system, the Government has produced updated advice for those individuals who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV).
It is easy to become consumed and overwhelmed with the information and to feel a sense of confusion, as to what the new guidance provides for. Therefore we have summarised the changes in relation to CEV employees for you, based on Tier 3, to hopefully make the guidance easier to follow.
Socialising inside and outside of the home can only take place with members of the same household or within a support bubble, unless a legal exemption applies.
Strict social distancing must be maintained, as well as washing hands regularly and avoiding touching their face.
CEV people should also avoid busy areas to minimise the chance of coming into close contact with others and the advice remains to stay at home as much as possible.
Where feasible CEV employees are advised to work from home, because it reduces the chance of them being exposed to the virus.
Where it is not possible to work from home, then the organisation is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should explain the measures to the employee.
Employees should consider how they travel to and from work and may need to consider travelling at different times, in order to reduce the number of social contacts.
Where required, alternative roles can be considered in order to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
If the employee cannot continue to work in their current role and there are no suitable alternatives, the employee could be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as long as the organisation does not receive public funding for that particular employee.
CEV employees are able to travel to work under Tier 3, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make, where feasible and should avoid travelling in or out of a Tier 3 area.
If an employee is based in a different tier to the one that they are travelling to for the purposes of work, then which ever tier is the higher one, then this will be the guidance that they will follow upon arriving at work.
CEV employees are not advised to shield, unless they receive a new shielding notification from the government, which advises them to do so.
In all cases we would advise an individual risk assessment is completed and a record of any reasonable adjustments is maintained to demonstrate the employers response/actions to the employee’s health condition, in order to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.
Employers should be aware of the risks of disability discrimination claims that could arise following the management of an employee who is classed as CEV and ensure that any decisions are based on an employees’ health condition, as well as being proportionate and justifiable.
Any employee who refuses to attend work, leaves, or proposes to leave because they believe there is a serious, or imminent danger to their health, cannot be subjected to any detriment and any subsequent dismissal would be unfair.
Employees do have a contractual obligation to attend work, and an implied term of this contract, is for employees to comply with reasonable and lawful instructions from their employer. In relation to this, employers have a duty to act reasonably and any actions/decisions must be lawful and justifiable.
Please seek advice and support at an early stage when issues or concerns arise, in order to minimise any risk of potential litigation claims.