If an employee lives or cares for a person who is vulnerable (i.e. shielding) there is a risk of an associated discrimination claim if employers require those employees to return to work without taking the vulnerability of the shielded person into account.
Where an employee advises that they are unable to return to work because they are caring for a vulnerable person, managers should obtain further information from the employee as to what caring responsibilities they have.
Employees are not automatically required to shield themselves, if caring for a dependent in this category. Options should be explored to allow them to return to work, with all relevant health and safety measures in place.
If this is not possible, managers should consider as to whether the service can accommodate Special Leave – Time off for Dependents.
If the person shielding is a child, unpaid parental leave of up to 18 weeks may also apply. Further advice on this should be sought from the Employee Relations Team.