22/12/2020 – Tier 4 employees on the Shielding list must ‘not go to work.’
While the general advice across tiers remains to work at home ‘if possible,’ the advice for tier 4 areas was updated on 20th December for the most clinically extremely vulnerable. These should now heed the government advice, which clearly states ‘do not go to work’. For a reminder of what ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ means please click here.
What does this mean for employers in tier 4 areas?
Employees on the shielding list should be allowed to work from home if that is possible.
If you have an employee who is on the shielding list and who cannot work from home, it would be wise to follow the government advice and furlough them (if they are eligible – see below), or provide them with SSP and if furlough is not a possibility. Those employers with Company Sick Pay (CSP) schemes should consider paying CSP if homeworking is impossible.
Tier 4 shielding employees should not be forced to continue coming to work, and employers should not refuse homeworking if it is possible. Those employers who do not heed this advice are likely to face claims for unfair dismissal/constructive dismissal in the future.
Which employees are eligible for furlough?
For periods from 1 November onwards, you can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as you have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.
What about Tier 1 – 3?
The ‘do not attend work’ advice is currently limited to tier 4 and employees in other tiers can attend work if homeworking is not possible. The general advice across tiers is to work at home if possible, and employers are advised to be open minded to the possibilities of homeworking.
What does the shielding advice from government actually say (in relation to work?):
“You are strongly advised to work from home because the risk of exposure to the virus in your area may be significantly higher. If you cannot work from home, then you should not attend work.
You may want to speak to your employer about taking on an alternative role or change your working patterns temporarily to enable you to work from home where possible.
If you cannot make alternative arrangements, your employer may be able to furlough you under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021. You should have a conversation with your employer about whether this is possible.
As you are being advised not to attend work, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA). The formal shielding letter you receive will act as evidence for your employer and the Department of Work and Pensions that you are advised to shield and may be eligible for SSP or ESA.
Members of the household who are not clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend work if they are unable to work from home.”
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