Citizens Advice is asking the Government to protect the shielded group during the coronavirus outbreak.
Why things need to change
The Government has advised 2.5 million people who are “clinically extremely vulnerable” to shield at home until the end of June and to minimise contact with others outside their household. The Government states it is likely this will continue beyond June.
Employers can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) to furlough their workers due to certain personal circumstances, including people at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus and their household members.
However, Citizens Advice research shows people in this shielded group and their household members are facing an impossible choice as employers are not obliged to furlough them. New polling shows that 1 in 10 people who are clinically or extremely clinically vulnerable are still working outside the home.
As part of the Government’s commitment to protecting the safety of the shielded group, this group should have a right to be furloughed if their work would otherwise require them to breach public health advice. Other at risk groups, such as pregnant women & workers over 70, should also be protected if they cannot work safely outside the home.
It is vital that the shielded group remains protected in any unwinding of the Job Retention Scheme and that they do not face any greater risk of redundancy.
What we're doing
We’re examining how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting our clients to ensure they’re able to access the Government support they need. We are using our data to assess who’s falling through the gaps, and where further changes are needed.
We’re asking the Government to protect the safety of the shielded group during the coronavirus outbreak by extending the right to furlough to the shielded group, and ensuring the shielded group remains protected in any next steps for the Job Retention Scheme.