Shielding for clinically extremely vulnerable people was paused in England on 31 July 2020. However, the government has now updated its guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 to cover the period of the new national restrictions from 5 November to 2 December 2020. 

Whilst there is no return to the very restrictive shielding advice that was given earlier this year, from an employment perspective the updated guidance strongly advises those who are clinically extremely vulnerable to work from home. If they cannot work from home, it states that they should not attend work for the four-week period of the national restrictions. Formal shielding notification letters have again been issued to those on the government’s shielding list and these letters can act as evidence for employers that the individuals have been advised to follow shielding guidance and should not work outside of their home for the period stated in the letter. Note that the list of conditions that make an individual clinically extremely vulnerable has also been expanded to include adults with Down's syndrome, and adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5). 

Where clinically extremely vulnerable employees are unable to work from home, they are entitled to receive statutory sick pay (SSP), if otherwise eligible. Alternatively, they can be placed on furlough under the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, provided they were on the payroll on 30 October 2020.

At the end of the four-week period, the guidance advises that the aim will be to return to a regional approach and further guidance will be issued for the clinically extremely vulnerable at that time. 

Finally, the guidance states that employees living in the same household as someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable can still attend work if they cannot work from home, and they should follow the general national restrictions guidance.