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Reluctant returners – living with shielded individuals

Posted on: April 27th, 2020 by Ginny Hallam

‘I can’t return from furlough – I’m living with a shielded individual’

If you’re starting to unfurlough employees, you might hear from some that they can’t come back to work because they’re living with someone who’s shielded. 

Government guidance states that those living with shielded individuals do not have to shield themselves, but do need to pay particular attention to social distancing guidelines.

So what are your options?

  • Option 1 – Confirm that government guidance states there is no reason for them to shield. If they’re still reluctant to return, request in writing that they do so and reassure them of the preventative steps you’re taking to keep them safe at work. Explain that if they do not return without an accepted reason they will/may face disciplinary action.
  • Option 2 – Keep them on furlough so long as you will receive a reimbursement under the Job Retention Scheme. Explain that they must provide you with evidence that the individual with whom they live is shielding (ideally in the form of their shielding letter from the government). Explain in writing your expectations in respect of their behaviour during the furlough (and that of their household) and that they will be required to immediately return upon request.
  • Option 3 – Time off unpaid or holiday can be exercised. Alternatively the employee could be put on lay-off if you have the contractual right to do so.
  • Option 4 – If their job allows, request that they work from home until their entire household is able to return to normality.

We’ve created a guidance note that includes over 20 issues to consider when ‘unfurloughing’ employees. Click here for more info on how to access.

This update is accurate on the date it was produced (27 April 2020), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.