Shielding for people at high-risk

This page was last updated on 30 March at 14.20

The NHS has advised around 1.5 million people to shield themselves as they are at particularly high-risk if they contracted Coronavirus. This means them being in self-isolation for 12 weeks.

If you fall into this category you must follow the advice you have been given.

People who are at high risk include those who:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having certain types of cancer treatment
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
  • have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections
  • are taking medicine that weakens your immune system
  • are pregnant and have a serious heart condition

If you are in this group the NHS should have written to you with advice on “shielding” which is a way of protecting very vulnerable people from the virus.

The government is strongly advising people in this category to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. The advice will include:

  • not leaving your home for a period of 12 weeks – you should not go out to do shopping, visit friends or family, or attend any gatherings
  • avoiding close contact with other people in your home as much as possible

The government advice means that you are strongly advised not to go to work. ACAS has also updated its advice to employers which confirms that, if you have received a letter advising you to shield yourself for 12 weeks you should not go to work.  Contact us if you think you employer is not following the guidance.

If you think you are in the high-risk category but you do not receive a letter by 29 March, contact your GP by phone.

What will I be paid whilst shielding?

Most employers will take a sensible approach to your situation and we would advise that, as a minimum, you should be considered as being on ‘medical suspension’ which means being off work on full, normal pay.

Local government workers, under the ‘Green Book’ are entitled to be paid as normal if they are required to shield themselves for 12 weeks.

Can I be required to work at home whilst shielding?

Yes. If you would otherwise be at work, your employer can require you to work at home (if you can) whilst you are shielding.