9am, 23 March 2020
There is new guidance now available for a particular list of vulnerable individuals. This is a much narrower list than the vulnerable person list. As such, we now have a list of those who are classed as extremely vulnerable persons and those who are vulnerable persons.
A link to the Government’s current guidance regarding the extremely vulnerable is below:
Please read the list very carefully.
These individuals have been strongly advised by the Government to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.
If you have any employees falling within these categories on your workforce then you should be having discussions with them over the next couple of days, and particularly if they have been contacted by the NHS in this respect. They should not be attending work but instead staying at home.
The Government is encouraging employers to pay these individuals their normal salary/wages whilst off. However, that may not be feasible, depending on the numbers of staff involved and the length of time they are required to remain at home.
The reason they are being sent home is to be shielded in accordance with Government guidance, similar to self-isolation. As such, they may fall under the new SSP scheme or company sick pay scheme, where the employee is eligible. Of course, this means that they may receive significantly less than their usual salary/wages.
We also have to be aware that if you tell them to go home for their health and safety, you may be liable to pay the employee full pay for the duration of their absence as it could be deemed a health and safety suspension.
The concern is that these vulnerable people decide to continue coming to work because they are worried about paying their bills. The best option may therefore be to put them on Furlough Leave (with their agreement), so they will be entitled to at least 80% of their wages paid by the Government (up to £2,500), you can then top up the remainder of their salary, if you choose to do so. There is a slight risk here that they could claim disability discrimination as by being “furloughed” they were unfairly selected as others are continuing to carry out the same role. However, if the other option is that they only receive SSP or a small amount of company sick pay, then 80% of their wages (up to £2,500) is likely to be more beneficial to them.
You should also continue to encourage those within the wider definition of a vulnerable person to stay at home.
If you need assistance in providing a letter seeking their consent to being placed on furlough leave, please contact either Andrea (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rachel (email@example.com).
Please be aware that this is general guidance and is not specific advice. The situation is fluid and is being updated on a daily basis. Please contact us for specific advice.