Thank you for contacting me about the clinically vulnerable returning to work.
Protecting lives remains the main priority for the Government. Safety will always come first and measures are in place to protect those most at risk of needing hospital treatment if they were to contract Covid-19.
Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals have been strongly advised not to work outside the home.
Clinically vulnerable individuals, who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions including diabetes), have been asked to take extra care in observing social distancing if unable to work from home.
An employer is expected to make every effort to enable any clinically vulnerable employees to work from home. It could be that an employer may be able to offer different types of leave, different working patterns or perhaps a different role.
If this is not possible, and the clinically vulnerable individual has been asked to return to their workplace, their employer should enable them to keep 2 metres from others at all times. They should be offered the safest role on site and, if contact with others is required, an employer should assess if this involves an acceptable level of risk.
It is only right that particular attention should also be paid to employees who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
There are several support schemes available to businesses who are struggling during this crisis, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. These schemes are designed to support both employers and employees and to protect jobs.
It is important to state that employees have protection against unfair dismissal and, if they believe they have been unfairly dismissed, which could possibly be on the grounds of discrimination, they could challenge it at an employment tribunal. Further details can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunals.
While businesses can only re-open in accordance with Covid-19 Secure guidelines, which does include a risk assessment, employers have a responsibility to protect their employees and make any possibly adjustments to help improve working arrangements.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this very important issue.