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If you are in the vulnerable group but not shielding do you have to return to work when requested?

(48 Posts)
Littlemiss74 Tue 14-Apr-20 18:24:16

I am asking this in a professional capacity as the question has arisen at work in my team.

We have several people who are in the vulnerable category with eg asthma who have been furloughed. If they are required to end furlough and return to work can they object as they are in a vulnerable group? Would they only be able to do this if they had a shielding letter? And what about if they have a partner who is shielding and they want to not return to work so as to protect them?

Obviously want to do the right thing as only the individual’s concerned know anxious returning to
work may make them feel. But at the same time business needs have to be met somehow. It’s a tricky one.

OP’s posts: |
CherryBakebadly Tue 14-Apr-20 18:27:26

Following as would like to know too.

SpudsAreLife84 Tue 14-Apr-20 18:41:09

I work for the prison service and all those individuals in the vulnerable group are still at work, with risk assessments in place. Only those in the extremely vulnerable group are allowed to stay off work.

SpudsAreLife84 Tue 14-Apr-20 18:42:18

Oh and as for the shielding partner, my colleague is taking unpaid leave because work won't support her staying home to protect him indefinitely so after 2 weeks special leave its changed to unpaid leave.

RagamuffinCat Tue 14-Apr-20 18:45:17

I work in a supermarket, and have asthma. Not in the vulnerable group, so carrying on as usual, although my GP was concerned about this as my asthma isn't very stable.

CherryBakebadly Tue 14-Apr-20 18:46:28

ragamuffin that puts you in the vulnerable group, just not the shielding / very vulnerable group.

ChipotleBlessing Tue 14-Apr-20 18:50:44

I doubt they’ll be able to stay on furlough if they’re needed. The vulnerable group is just too big for that to be possible. You’ll need to do risk assessments and make sure they can maintain social distancing while in the workplace.

LatteLoverLovesLattes Tue 14-Apr-20 19:42:06

What do you think the situation would be for someone who can't maintain Social Distance at work? I would need to be in a car with another person and in the office of someone spending a lot of time on central London public transport, sharing office equipment & chairs etc.

I love my job, but I think I might have to resign sad

NeurotrashWarrior Tue 14-Apr-20 19:47:24

I've wondered if as a teacher I'll be put on long term sick leave. Sen primary so zero social distancing possible.

RagamuffinCat Tue 14-Apr-20 19:58:30

Yes sorry, not in the shielding group but in the vulnerable group. Customers are still standing very close to us, and even tapping us to get our attention and we are unable to work more than a couple of feet apart from our colleagues due to the set up of the department. Also, although the store is mostly letting in a limited number of people at a time, at busier times they let a lot more in to reduce the queues, and this means that social distancing from customers is impossible.

WreckTangled Tue 14-Apr-20 20:03:20

I'm type one diabetic so vulnerable but not shielding. I work for the nhs usually in school nursing. The service has been stripped right back and most of us have been redeployed. I'm on annual leave atm but back on Monday. Due to being diabetic they've put me in an admin role in a massively busy office mixing with clinical staff

To be honest I'm just happy to be able to help. Will probably end up getting it but hopefully will be ok.

CloudsCanLookLikeSheep Tue 14-Apr-20 20:07:02

Where I work, if you have the NHS letter you can be furloughed on health grounds, otherwise if vulnerable you can request a leave of absence but its unpaid.

Not many people can afford to be unpaid.

CherryBakebadly Tue 14-Apr-20 20:10:49

Isn’t there a legal requirement for your workplace to be safe for you?

Egghead68 Tue 14-Apr-20 20:16:01

It appears not @Cherry, given all the nurses, doctors, carers and bus drivers dying at work. sad

FishOnPillows Tue 14-Apr-20 22:23:19

I’m in the vulnerable but not shielding category and still going to work. My workplace has said if we have any issues we should discuss them with them - but it boils down to trying to maintain social distancing wherever possible, and if you’re still not happy you can take unpaid leave.

FishOnPillows Tue 14-Apr-20 22:25:47

Basically, being ‘vulnerable’ means absolutely nothing in practice that I can tell (in work or otherwise) and I don’t really understand why such a big thing was made about it a month or so ago.

Littlemiss74 Tue 14-Apr-20 22:31:37

@FishOnPillows so it looks as though only people with the letter have the right not to attend work but still be paid or continue to work from home if they can?

OP’s posts: |
Shelby30 Tue 14-Apr-20 23:14:14

Think it's only those with nhs letters. If someone in your house has one that should count.

I say this as I have a friend whose child has the nhs letter for a medical condition. My friend will still be working from home after lockdown for the 12wks at least and her husband has been allowed to be put on furlough for the 12wks too. His work were so unreasonable even though they know the condition that the child has and how serious it is. They wouldn't let him stay off until they received the letter. He has to take holidays until it arrived.

WreckTangled Wed 15-Apr-20 07:31:01

Definitely only those with letters. We've been told if we choose to self isolate then it's unpaid leave. My friend has a shielding letter and her husband is still working because he's a key worker. My other friend has a shielding letter and her husband has moved out because he's still working and didn't want to pass it on.

SimonJT Wed 15-Apr-20 07:36:21

I’m in two vulnerable groups, type one diabetes and an essentially non-functioning spleen (I’m also male and Asian).

I have just been put on furlough, but when I return to work I can work from home until it’s safe for me to return to the office. I used to work from hone quite a bit anyway.

8by8 Wed 15-Apr-20 07:44:16

Workplaces have to make “reasonable adjustments” for disabilities, so maybe the best approach would be to see if adjustments can be made for people who are vulnerable.

So work from home or in a slightly different role, or wear a face mask. But it would certainly be reasonable for an employer to say they can’t adjust a job that depends on close personal contact (eg working with SEN kids). Maybe offer unpaid leave if possible. But ultimately if somebody can’t do the job then they need to leave.

I suspect though that a lot of GPs would be sympathetic to vulnerable people not wanting to return to unsafe jobs.

In practice if I was being told to go to work now I’d be seeing a GP about my fears and would prob be signed off with anxiety so it becomes a matter under your sick leave policy.

5zeds Wed 15-Apr-20 07:56:52

Realistically if you are vulnerable and, as we know Covid 19 is likely to evolve and be an on going threat, in the long run are you ever going to be able to work with children safely? sad

CaffiSaliMali Wed 15-Apr-20 08:37:12

I am in the vulnerable group (asthma). Asthma not severe enough to shield, but isn't 'mild' asthma - all my colleagues with asthma are on stage 1 of asthma management, a brown preventer and a blue reliever if needed, which is rarely. I'm on stage 2 - combined preventer and reliever inhaler, plus Montelukast and a blue reliever. I last had steroids and antibiotics in November. I haven't had enough steroids in the last year to put me in the shielding group.

One of my colleagues with 'mild' asthma needed an ambulance due to Covid-19 symptoms sad

My employer let everyone vulnerable work from home before lockdown. We're all key workers (public sector). Anyone vulnerable or in the shielding group is allowed to work from home. Anyone vulnerable who can't work from home is on paid special leave.

I think if they didn't do that I would request unpaid special leave. My office contains around 4000 staff, and I travel to work on a busy train. I don't think I would resign - I would lose continuous service for pensions etc. and new jobs initially prioritise existing staff, so would be hard to get back in in the future.

30ishiwish Wed 15-Apr-20 08:57:51

I am in the extremely vulnerable group due to ongoing immunosuppressant treatment for a chronic autoimmune disease.

As a primary school teacher I very concerned about returning to school. How will social distancing work with 650+ children? There is no way my MAT would allow me to stay at home until there is a vaccine.

SabrinaTheTeenageBitch Wed 15-Apr-20 09:03:51

DH is in the vulnerable group and DD1 is disabled. He's WFH at the moment but his employer (not a small company) were incredibly difficult about it despite knowing our daughters conditions so much so that I think he would have resigned had we been financially able. I have no idea what happens once the 12 weeks are up and it's something that's keeping me awake at night

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