Guidance for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) employees
Staff who are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV - those who are at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19) should not be attending the workplace during the new lockdown. The government strongly advises that they work from home during this period of restriction.
Someone is identified as being CEV if they have either been added to the shielded patients list by their clinician, or they have one of the conditions listed here.
If a member of staff does not fall into either of the above categories, then they will not be deemed CEV and should follow the new national restrictions put in place from 5th November.
The latest government guidance states that at the end of this month-long lockdown, we will return to a regional approach. If this happens, CEV staff should continue to go to work, only where they cannot work from home, and providing the region in which they live, and work, is not placed into tier 3 restrictions, in which case they should remain at home.
It should be noted that there are no additional restrictions placed on those living with the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Therefore, any member of staff who lives with someone classed as CEV should work from home if they can do so efficiently, and if not, should attend the workplace.
What about pay?
The government has amended Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rules to provide for SSP to CEV employees who are forced to take time off work due to Shielding restrictions. CEV employees who cannot work from home, may be entitled to SSP, providing they meet other eligibility criteria.
Employees who are unable to attend work because they are CEV may also be entitled to Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit.
If a business offers additional sick pay within their sick policy or an employee’s contract, then whether a CEV employee will be entitled to contractual sick pay will depend upon the precise wording of the sick pay clauses. However, given that interpretation of such clauses is likely to be ambiguous, organisations might prefer to look at other options such as furlough (if available) or assigning the employee duties which can be undertaken from home and avoiding the risk of claims or fall out.
What about staff who are not CEV?
Regardless of the precautions taken by employers to make a workplace safe, if an employee reasonably believes that there is serious, imminent danger to their health if they come into work, they have a right to stay at home. This means that if an employee refuses to attend work on the above grounds, and they suffer detriment or are dismissed for the same reason, their dismissal would likely be deemed unfair. Of course, whether their belief is reasonable is again open to debate; if a business is satisfied that it’s workplace is Covid-secure, and it has consulted with employees over their fears, an employer might decide not to pay an employee who refuses to attend.