Article

Supporting our most vulnerable people

Guidance on supporting staff with underlying health conditions and those who are in higher-risk groups.

20 January 2022

Employers should continue to implement health, safety and wellbeing measures, undertake and regularly review risk assessments (where required) to support and protect staff. Employers must follow the government guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. 

Sheilding programme 

On the 15 September 2021, the government announced that  those who were previously identified as clinically extremely vulnerable are no longer required to shield and will not be advised too again.

Those who were considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable will now follow the guidance contained in Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread

This decision will now allow individuals to manage their own health conditions with their own healthcare professionals to decide what is right for their individual needs. The government will continue to assess the situation and the risks posed by COVID-19 and, based on clinical advice, will respond accordingly to keep the most vulnerable safe.

That said, employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees from risks to their health and safety, especially vulnerable individuals who may be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they were to catch COVID-19. Employers should therefore be able to explain measures implemented to keep staff safe at work and may want to consider additional precautions, these could include: 

  • considering whether those they are meeting have been vaccinated – they might want to wait until 14 days after everyone’s second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before being in close contact with others
  • considering continuing to practice social distancing if that feels right for them
  • asking their friends and family to take a rapid lateral flow antigen test before visiting them
  • asking home visitors to wear face coverings
  • avoiding crowded spaces

It is still important that managers check in with their staff regularly and ask if their circumstances may have changed, review any risk assessments undertaken, and provide the appropriate support to staff such as holding wellbeing conversations.