What obligations does an employer have to an employee who lives with someone who is at very high risk of serious illness from coronavirus?

People who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition are strongly advised to "shield" themselves by staying at home as much as possible. Government guidance on shielding for clinically extremely vulnerable people, includes a list of those included in this category. These people will be notified by the NHS that they are at very high risk and should shield themselves.

According to the guidance, people who live with someone who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should carefully follow guidance on social distancing. However, they are not required to take the shielding measures themselves.

Employers should therefore support employees who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable to work from home if at all possible. They should travel to work only if it is possible to follow the guidance on social distancing at work and on the way to and from work. If neither working from home nor strict social distancing is possible, employers could consider alternative arrangements, such as a period of furlough.

Government guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme confirms that employers can furlough an employee, and make a claim for their wage costs under the scheme, if they need to stay at home with someone who is shielding.