We are advising all staff to continue working from home unless you cannot do your job from home or for personal wellbeing reasons.

The UK Government has specific guidance for people who are either clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable.

Clinically vulnerable staff

The Government advises that people who are clinically vulnerable should be especially careful to follow health rules and minimise contact with others.

Someone is considered clinically vulnerable if they are:

  • Over 70
  • Under 70 with a specific underlying health condition such as a respiratory disease, heart disease or diabetes. You can read the full list of health conditions on the government website
  • Pregnant

If clinically vulnerable staff are unable to work from home they can still attend their usual ‘covid secure’ working location, however they should follow government advice and take all the necessary precautions to keep safe. An individual risk assessment should already be in place to support these staff which outlines all the necessary control measures agreed for them whilst working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These assessments should be under regular review and managers must consider the impact of changing personal circumstances and the potential impact to staff on local and national restrictions being implemented by the government.

Clinically extremely vulnerable staff

People who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) are at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. There are two ways you may be identified as clinically extremely vulnerable:

  1. You have one or more of the conditions listed on the government website.
  2. Your hospital clinician or GP has added you to the shielded patients list because they believe you to be at higher risk of serious illness if you catch the virus.

The Government has changed its advice regarding Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people. 

From 1 April 2021 CEV people will no longer be advised to shield. However, CEV people remain at higher risk and are advised to take additional measures to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Wherever possible, CEV staff should continue to work from home. Where it’s not possible to work from home, it may be possible to return to work with additional control measures in place to ensure safety.  

Guidance for managers of CEV staff

Managers should speak to CEV staff about their working arrangements to discuss plans and to reassure them. Where vulnerable staff cannot work from home, an individual risk assessment must be in place. 

If an individual risk assessment has been done already this must be discussed and reviewed with the member of staff before any return to work. This discussion should cover all practical measures in place to keep staff safe. 

The vast majority of CEV staff are likely to have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination. However, even when both doses have been administered this does not completely remove all risk and Covid-secure measures need to be maintained.  

The vaccination will provide some confidence for CEV staff, but the level of anxiety these staff may feel should not be underestimated. This is more likely the longer that someone has been out of the workplace and managers should take a careful and supportive approach to discussing a return to work. 

Managers should consider and discuss with staff measures that will increase confidence and a successful return to work, including:

  • structured reinduction
  • informal visits to a workplace before returning
  • a phased return over an extended period
  • any other measures that will assist.

Referral to Occupational Health may also be considered depending on the circumstances of individual staff members.