Shielding employees in England no longer entitled to statutory sick pay from August
Over two million clinically vulnerable people in England who were advised to 'shield' at home during the coronavirus pandemic have been told they can return to work from 1 August 2020 – and, as a result, those who are employed will no longer be eligible for statutory sick pay.
The Government today announced it will be easing its guidance over the next few weeks for those with severe underlying health conditions who have been advised to stay at home and avoid non-essential face-to-face contact during the pandemic.
Around 2.2 million people in England fall into this category – for example, those with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy, and those with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). See the full guidance on shielding on the Gov.uk website.
Regulations introduced earlier this year mean that these people were entitled to extra services, such as free Government food boxes, and could also claim statutory sick pay of £95.85/week if they were employed and earned an average of at least £120/week.
However, the Government guidance is now being relaxed, so if you're currently shielding:
- From Monday 6 July, you'll no longer have to stay at home. Instead, you'll be able to spend time outdoors in a group of up to six people – including those outside your household – while maintaining social distancing rules.
- From 1 August 2020, you can return to work – so statutory sick pay will end. The Government says you can return to work so long as your workplace is 'coronavirus secure' – this means it must be implementing measures such as social distancing and providing hand-washing facilities. (The Government says that if you have any concerns about your workplace, you should speak to your employer and agree any required adjustments.)
As a result, employees who could previously claim statutory sick pay while shielding will no longer be able to claim this.
- From 1 August 2020, free Government food box deliveries will also stop. However, you'll continue to be given priority for supermarket delivery slots, and will still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.
The rules above apply to England – shielding rules work differently in the devolved nations.
You'll still be able to get sick pay if you're ill, or self-isolating through the NHS Test and Trace system.
You're also eligible for statutory sick pay in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland if shielding. Shielding in these nations will end at different points.
In Scotland, shielding advice applies to around 180,000 people and currently remains in place until 31 July 2020, while in Wales it applies to 130,000 people and currently remains in place until 16 August 2020. However, in both countries it may be extended. But in Northern Ireland shielding guidance will end, as in England, on 31 July 2020 – so long as transmissions remain low.