Coronavirus: shielding and vulnerable people

Returning to the workplace after shielding

Employees and workers who are no longer shielding can now return to their workplace if it’s open.

Employers and those who were shielding should talk as soon as possible about plans to help them return.

Employers should support people to continue working from home where possible.

If working from home is not possible, options might include:

  • the employer putting extra measures in place to keep the person safe in the workplace
  • the person taking up an alternative role
  • temporarily changing the person's working patterns

Keeping the workplace safe

Employers must make sure they follow workplace safety guidelines to keep their staff safe.

If someone feels they are at a higher risk, they should talk with their employer about:

  • how to assess this risk
  • putting extra measures in place

If it's not possible for the person to return to work safely, options may include:

  • being put on furlough
  • taking unpaid leave
  • taking holiday

Find out more about keeping the workplace safe.

If a doctor says someone should stay at home

Even if shielding is paused, a doctor may advise someone to stay at home. They’ll need to get a sick note (‘fit note’) to show their employer. 

The employee or worker must report sickness to their employer in the usual way. They may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

The employer should talk with the person to understand the issue and see how they can support them.

Find out more about fit notes and proof of sickness.

If someone thinks it is not safe to return to the workplace

It’s important to talk to their employer if someone feels:

  • they should not be going back to work because they’re at higher risk
  • their workplace is not safe enough to return to

They can also talk to their trade union or health and safety representative, if they have one.

Find out how to raise a problem at work.

Unfair treatment and dismissal

By law, employees and workers are protected against unfair treatment and dismissal if it's because of:

  • pregnancy
  • age
  • a health condition that's considered a disability under the Equality Act

It does not matter how long they've worked for the employer.

This means an employer must not:

  • unreasonably try to pressure someone to go to work
  • unreasonably discipline someone for not going to work

Find out about dealing with a problem at work.

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