The government advises that people who are extremely vulnerable to coronavirus stay at home as much as possible. This is called ‘shielding’. If you are shielding because of government guidance, you may be able to work from home instead of taking sick leave.
If you’re not sure if you should be shielding or think you should be but have not been told to by the NHS, speak to your GP.
Shielding and work after 1 August
In England, after 1 August you can go back to work if you cannot work from home. Your workplace should follow the government guidance and make sure it’s ‘coronavirus-safe’ so you can return.
The government asks employers to make sure ‘robust measures’ are in place to keep employees who were shielding safe and to ease their transition back to work.
If you feel uncertain about returning to work, speak to your employer to find out their policies on coronavirus changes. Agree a plan for returning to work, including any adjustments you need.
If you need to self-isolate because you or someone you live with has coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms you should be able to take sick leave and keep your job. But tell your employer as soon as possible.
Depending on your employer’s policy and your contract, your employer may ask you to take the paid sick leave in your contract or statutory sick pay (SSP). Ask your employer about their sick leave policy.
If your employer needs evidence, ask the NHS for an Isolation Note.
Your employer might have kept you on the payroll, even if you could not work. This is known as being ‘on furlough’. If you were furloughed before 10 June, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) helps pay your wages while you're on furlough.
Under the scheme the government will pay:
80% of your wages in June and July, including Employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions up to a monthly cap of £2,500
80% of your wages in August with a monthly cap of £2,500, and your employer pays your ER NICS and pension contributions
70% of your wages in September with a monthly cap of £2,187.50. Your employer pays the other 10% and your ER NICS and pension contributions.
60% of your wages in October with a monthly cap of £1,875. Your employer pays the remaining 20% and your ER NICS and pension contributions.
From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work part-time and still claim under the CJRS.
Warning Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme changes
The scheme closed on 30 June but you must have been on furlough for 3 weeks before 30 June to claim. If you were not on furlough before 10 June, your employer cannot use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
If you missed the furlough deadline or your salary is reduced because of furloughing, you may be eligible for benefits.
Going back to work if someone in your house is shielding
You can go back to work if your partner or someone you live with is shielding, as long as your workplace is following government guidance to make it ‘coronavirus-safe’.
If you’re worried, speak to your employer to find out their policies on coronavirus changes. You could try agreeing a plan for returning to work, including any adjustments you need to keep you and your household safe.
You should also follow the government guidance on what to do if you live with someone who is shielding.
The government has published online guides to help employers and employees return to work safely during coronavirus. All employers must carry out a risk assessment and share the results on their website. If you’re worried about your safety, ask your employer what measures will be in place to protect you.