Changes to shielding
The government announced changes to “Shielding” from the 1st August to assist with returning to a more normal way of life for individuals, taking into consideration health and safety measures. However, the changes in rates of infection and the resulting local measures taken mean that employees may be in and out of shielding over the foreseeable future. So what do you need to know?
What are the changes to shielding?
The government announced that from the 1st August 2020 they will be “pausing” shielding in England and Scotland (unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly).
This specifically means:
- the government will no longer be advising individuals to shield
- employees and workers in England and Scotland are no longer eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the basis of being advised to shield by the government
- employees and workers who have stopped shielding may be able to return to the workplace if it’s safe
- the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop.
What if my employee previously in the shielding category is fearful of returning to work?
It is important as an employer to take employee concerns seriously in relation to this. It is assumed that the employer would be putting all reasonable measures in place, within the working environment, to enable safe working for everyone.
If you are able to allow the individual to work from home, we would suggest you do so.
Where this is not possible, communicate with the employee, letting them know of all measures that have already been put in place. If they have been shielding for a period of time, they may not be aware of the risk assessments undertaken and the safety measures being practiced.
It may be appropriate to offer further PPE for individuals, if required. Alternatively, you may be able to offer flexible options in terms of shift start / finish times.
If it’s not possible for the person to return to work safely, options may include staying on furlough.
What if my employee previously in the shielding category still does not want to return to work, after all safety measures are in place and practiced?
Should employees previously in the shielding category still not feel confident to return to work, you may want to consider having an Occupational Health Assessment carried out for the individual, specifically related to COVID-19.
Should this be required, please speak to Gateway HR – We can help to arrange this with our provider for this service.
Just as a reminder, what is the current situation with regards to furlough?
From 1st to 31st August, the Government will be paying 80 % of furloughed employees wages up to a cap of £2,500 for hours not worked. However, as the employer, you will have to pay the full amount of employer’s National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions.
From 1st to 30th September, the Government will pay 70% of furloughed employees wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for hours not worked. Employers will need to top up the employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed, plus National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions.
From 1st to 31st October (the scheme end date), the Government will pay 60% of furloughed employees wages up to a cap of £1,875 for hours not worked. Employers will need to top up the employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed, plus National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions.
You can continue to choose to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at your own expense if you wish. You will also need to continue to pay your employees in full for any hours worked.