Info on staff & customer protection measures

Social distancing and vulnerable people

The current advice from the government is for everyone to try and stop unnecessary contact with other people who do not live with them– 'social distancing'. This includes:

- where possible work from home
- avoid public transport particularly in rush hours 
- avoid gatherings, whether in public, at work or at home.

Employers should support their employees and encourage them to take the following steps. Including:

- more flexibility in the ways of working.Change the hours of work to avoid rush hours where they may be in more contact with people
- encourage working from home where possible
- postponing events and meetings or hold them virtually using video/webinar or conference calls

Vulnerable people

The government strongly advises that people who are at a higher risk of catching COVID-19, adhere to the social distancing advice.

Employers must take extra precautions for anyone in their workforce who is considered vulnerable. This includes, but are not limited to:

- long-term health condition, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or a weakened immune system
- pregnant
- aged 70 or over
- a carer for someone with a health condition that might put them at a greater risk

Find out more about social distancing and vulnerable people on GOV.UK.

Shielding for extremely vulnerable people

Those who are considered vulnerable due to a underlying health condition, will receive a letter from the NHS to say they must take extra steps to protect themselves.

If an employee receives a letter telling them to start shielding, they will need to stay at home for at least 12 weeks.

Employees should talk to their employer as soon as they can if they:

- have been told to start shielding
- think they might get a letter telling them to start shielding

Employers should support staff following shielding guidelines. In this unprecedented time these vulnerable employees may feel distress therefore it is important for employers to keep in touch during any absences due to COVID-19.

Any details about the employee’s medical condition must be kept confidential, unless the employee says it can be shared.

Working from home

Where work can be done at home, the employer could:

- ask staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can carry on working 
- arrange paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers

If an employer and employee agree to working from home, the employer should:

- pay the employee as usual
- keep in regular contact
- check on the employee’s health and wellbeing

If an employee does not want to go to work

Employees might feel anxious due to catching COVID-19, which may lead to them not wanting to go to work. This could particularly be the case for those who are at higher risk.

It is the duty of the employer to listen to the concerns of staff during this time and ensure that the correct measures are taking place.

If an employee still does not want to go in, they may be able to arrange with their employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. The employer does not have to agree to this.

If an employee refuses to attend work without a valid reason, it could result in disciplinary action.

Find out more about absence from work.

Last reviewed
02 April 2020