COVID-19: Vulnerable People
As at 20th March 2020, the Government is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
This group includes those who:
1. are aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
3. are pregnant.
There are some medical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The Government has announced that from Monday 23rd March 2020, specific advice will be provided to those groups. They include:
- people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
- people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has indicated that around 1.4 million people will be contacted and told to self isolate.
Up-to-date advice from the Government on protecting vulnerable adults can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults
The Government has said “employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible”.
Advice To Members
Whilst we accept that this is a highly challenging time for both employers and the staff who are working extremely hard to keep businesses open in difficult circumstances, vulnerable staff should be given the protection they need and be allowed to remain at home, on full pay.
If you’re classed as vulnerable (as described above), you should contact the Advice Team, who will be able to give you specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We have created a clear plan of action for dealing with vulnerable members and we’ll be able to talk you through the steps you need to take.
Self-Certification and Medical Evidence
If you have been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19, because you have symptoms or you live with someone who has symptoms, you can self-certify for the first 7 days of absence (including weekends), which means that you do not have to provide any evidence to your employer.
After the 7 day period, you may be asked for evidence of your sickness absence. The Government has launched an isolation note service, which can be used to provide the evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
To use this service, please click here – https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
If you need any assistance with this, please contact the Advice Team on 01234 716005 (choosing Option 1).