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The Government has announced that 1.7m additional people will be told to shield due to updated research on risk factors.
The TUC has called for the additional 1.7m people being added to the shielding list who are working to be furloughed if they can’t work from home.
The Government announced the increase in the number of people shielding yesterday. It is the result of a new model based on research findings of risk factors for Covid, including poverty, weight and ethnicity as well as underlying health issues and age and is based on research by Oxford University on the characteristics of people who died in the first wave of the pandemic.
Letters will be sent out to the additional 1.7m people by the NHS. They will be entitled to statutory sick pay, prioritisation for online shopping slots and help collecting medicines. In addition, 800,000 of them have not been vaccinated so the Government says they will be fast tracked for the Covid vaccine.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady called for anyone shielding who cannot work from home to be furloughed.
She said: “This will be a very worrying time for hundreds of thousands of working people. Some will be able to work from home – but others will not. These new shielders who can’t work from home must not lose their jobs and livelihoods overnight.
“Employers must furlough new shielders who can’t work from home to keep them and their jobs safe.
“Ministers must publicise the option to furlough new shielders, and should consider introducing a right to be furloughed for all those who are required to shield.”
Kate Palmer, HR Advice Director at Peninsula, said: “While many individuals included in this list are likely not to be of working age, some companies will see an increased number of staff now being advised to shield and prepare for this. Currently, individuals who are shielding are being advised not to go into their workplace even if they cannot work from home. However, they can be furloughed if this is the case and are also entitled to receive statutory sick pay if eligible. Therefore, employers based in England must be prepared to have additional conversations with any member of staff that now falls into this category and respond accordingly. It is currently unclear how long this advice to shield will last.”