As of 1 August 2020, more than two million vulnerable people in England who were advised to ‘shield’ at home as a result of the pandemic have been advised they can return to work.
The Government says it is down to an employer’s discretion as to whether they bring staff back to the workplace, but it says that those that have been shielding can return to work as long as the workplace has been made ‘COVID-secure’.
Due to the change in Government guidance, those who are employed and were shielding are no longer eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) for the sole purpose of shielding.
Under regulations introduced earlier this year, those who were shielding were entitled to claim (SSP) of £95.85/week if they were employed and earned an average of at least £120/week.
Employees will remain eligible for SSP if they are ill or advised to self-isolate through the NHS Test and Trace system.
Employers should be aware that an employee or worker is protected by law against unfair treatment and dismissal, if it’s because of pregnancy, age or they have a health condition that is considered a disability under the Equality Act.
Businesses should, therefore, be careful not to discriminate on these grounds by unreasonably trying to pressure someone to return to work or disciplining them for failing to come to work because they have concerns about their health and it is related to one of these protected characteristics.