On 31 October, the Government announced a further national lockdown. Below we consider the changes in relation to who can attend the workplace and the particular implications for clinically extremely vulnerable staff.
Attending Work Premises
The guidance issued on 31 October states that if you are able to work 'effectively' from home, you must do so. There is little guidance at the moment as to what 'effectively' means. The guidance does contain a non-exhaustive list of people who cannot work effectively from home, including those who work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing. It also includes public sector employees working in essential services such as childcare or education. If it is necessary to work in other people's homes, for example nannies, cleaners or tradespeople, they are also able to continue going into work.
There is also a long list of places that will be forced to close (except for in very specific circumstances), such as non-essential retail (clothing, homeware, betting shops etc), hospitality venues and accommodation such as hotels and campsites. Many of those do not lend themselves to homeworking.
What Does This Mean for Schools, Colleges and Universities?
Schools, colleges and universities will remain open. However, there are some restrictions that will be in place. For example, those living at the university are not allowed to move back and forward between their student homes and permanent homes during term time. Extra-curricular activities, such as clubs, also cannot take place unless part of a childcare function for working parents.
What About Vulnerable People?
The guidance now states that if you are over 60 or clinically vulnerable (which includes pregnant staff and those with some underlying health conditions), you should be 'especially careful' to follow the rules and minimise contact. Where such staff cannot work effectively from home they can go to work. Employers should review risk assessments already in place and ensure that they cover this extended group and that all risks have been identified and appropriately managed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.