Coronavirus (Covid-19): LOCKDOWN 3.0 – Government guidance

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What do we already know?

We updated you in our August 2020 Newsletter Coronavirus (COVID-19): Updated guidance on returning to the workplace on the 14 workplace guides the Government had published to enable employers to operate safely (known as being “COVID secure”).

What’s new?

The Government has updated the majority of the 14 workplace guides in the series Working safely during Coronavirus, (available here).  This is in light of the lockdown national restrictions imposed in England from 6 January 2021.

The guidance reiterates that attendance at a workplace is permissible if the individual cannot ‘reasonably’ work from home. While the wording differs slightly depending on which sector guidance document it is, the guidance is:

“Currently, you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.”

However the guidance in these documents is different for individuals classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. Those individuals are strongly advised not to attend their workplace during the national lockdown. If clinically extremely vulnerable individuals cannot work from home, then they should not work.

On 7 January the Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 (available here) was updated.

There are two ways for an individual to be identified as clinically extremely vulnerable:

  • they have one or more of the conditions expressly listed in the guidance; or
  • their clinician has added them to the shielded patient list.

Employers should consider whether clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can take an alternative role, or change their working patterns temporarily to enable them to work from home. Where that is not possible, employers should not require individuals to attend work, but have a conversation about alternative arrangements including consideration of the use of the CJRS (furlough). If not furloughed, individuals who have been formally advised to shield may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA). The formal shielding notification received will act as evidence for the employer that they are advised to shield and may be eligible for SSP or ESA.

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