Supporting our most vulnerable people

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

16 September 2021

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. 

On the 15 September 2021, the government announced that if you 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 has been made following: 

  • more information and research being available on the COVID-19 virus
  • the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme
  • the emergence of proven treatments.

The government asked vulnerable people to shield at the start of the pandemic as an intervention to protect those most at risk from catching the virus becoming seriously ill. However, the advice given was extremely restrictive and resulted in significantly impacting some peoples mental and physical wellbeing.

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, however, continue to re-evaluate the situation accordingly and will respond to keep those who are 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.

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.