COVID - Managing Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Employees

News on 05 November 2020

Clinically extremely vulnerable – how to manage these employees during COVID

As of today, 5th November 2020, England is going into a 4-week lockdown. There has been new guidance published for people who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Who is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable?

Adults with and of the following conditions will be automatically classed as clinically extremely vulnerable:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • Those with specific cancers:
    • People with cancer undergoing active chemotherapy;
    • People with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy;
    • People with cancers of the blood / bone marrow e.g. leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma, who are at any stage in their treatment;
    • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer;
    • People having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system i.e. protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors;
    • People who have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the last 6 months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs;
  • Those with severe respiratory conditions. Including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  • Those with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections:
    • Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
    • Homozygous sickle cell disease;
  • Those on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase the risk of infection;
  • Adults with Down’s syndrome
  • Adults on dialysis of with chronic kidney disease (stage 5);
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease (congenital or acquired)
  • Other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on a clinical judgement and assessment of their needs
    • GPs and Hospital clinicians will make this decision

These people will have received a letter from the NHS or their GP when we first went into lockdown in March 2020, advising them that they were required to shield.

What do the clinically extremely vulnerable need to do?

According to government advice, anyone on the list above should follow the new national restrictions in England. They are also required to shield for the duration of the English lockdown.

The restrictions they must follow are:

  • Stay at home, except for specific purposes;
  • Do not gather with people you do not live with, except for specific purposes;
  • Work from home and not to attend work during the English lockdown;
  • Avoid all non-essential travel (private or public transport)
  • Do not go to the shops – use online shopping
  • Do not go to the pharmacy – arrange for medications to be collected for you

Can they work from home?

Absolutely! If you can arrange for your employees who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to work from home, that’s great. There’s nothing to restrict this.

They can’t work from home. What now?

If your clinically extremely vulnerable employee(s) can’t work from home, then you may be able to place them on furlough. If they were on the payroll before 30th October 2020, they may be eligible for the furlough scheme.

If they were not on the payroll by 30th October 2020, then they may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), or Universal Credit.

I don’t know my employee’s medical history. How will I know if they are supposed to shield?

The NHS or their GP should be sending them a formal shielding notification. They can provide you with a copy of this as evidence that they are advised to follow shielding guidance and should not work outside of their house for the period of time stated on the letter.