Current government advice is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people – 'social distancing'. This includes: working from home where possible , avoiding busy commuting times on public transport , and avoiding gatherings of people, whether in public, at work or at home. Employers should support their workforce to take these steps. This might include: agreeing to more flexible ways of working, for example changing start and finish times to avoid busier commuting times , allowing staff to work from home wherever possible , cancelling face-to-face events and meetings and rearranging to remote calling where possible, for example using video or conference calling technology.
Where work can be done at home, the employer could ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working or arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers. If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employer should pay the employee as usual , keep in regular contact , check on the employee’s health and wellbeing.
Some people will receive a letter from the NHS to say they must take extra steps to protect (or 'shield') themselves because of an underlying health condition. This is for people who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If an employee receives a letter telling them to start shielding, they will need to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.Employers should support staff following shielding guidelines. This might be a distressing or difficult time, so it’s important for employers to keep in touch during any absence. Any details about the employee’s medical condition must be kept confidential, unless the employee says it can be shared.
The government has issued guidance that strongly advises people who are at a higher risk of catching coronavirus ('vulnerable people') to take strict social distancing measures.
Employers must be especially careful and take extra steps for anyone in their workforce who is in a vulnerable group. They include, but are not limited to, those who: