Government guidance for shielding was updated on 16 February 2021 to include more people on the shielding list, being prioritised for the vaccine and advised to shield for a longer period (until 31 March 2021).
The NHS, in partnership with Oxford University, have developed a COVID-19 population risk assessment. The risk assessment takes into consideration a number of factors such as age, sex registered at birth, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI) and specific health conditions and treatments to estimate the risk of a person catching COVID-19, becoming seriously ill and requiring hospital treatment.
This has resulted in an additional 1.7 million people being added to the shielding list in England bringing the total to nearly 4 million. These additional 1.7 million people will soon receive a letter from the NHS advising them to shield. Shielding is not compulsory and it is still at a person’s discretion to decide on what they are comfortable about doing.
A person is categorised as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) or high risk of becoming seriously ill from contracting COVID-19 and advised to shield, if they fall into of any of the following categories:
they are a solid organ recipient
they have cancer and undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy
are taking immunosuppression drugs
are a woman who is pregnant and has significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
has a severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and COPD
has a rare disease such as severe combined immunodeficiency
are an adult with downs syndrome
are an adult on dialysis or with stage five chronic kidney disease
Government guidance advises people who are shielding do not attend work during the current lockdown and where possible work from home because their risk of exposure to the virus may currently be higher. Employers could consider alternative duties or changing working patterns temporarily to allow people advised to shield to work from home.
If a person advised to shield cannot work from home they may be entitled to statutory sick pay or can be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme due to end on 30 April 2021.
If you would like to understand more the impact of this change on your business and workforce please do not hesitate to contact the Alcumus PSM HR team for assistance on 01484 439 930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Written by James Day, HR Consultant