Shielding medics urged to know their rights on eve of back-to-work deadline

HCSA has urged worried shielding members to know their rights following the release of new guidance (PDF format) on the eve of the “pause” on stay-at-home advice.

Before an employer asks a staff member to return to work it must carry out individual and workplace risk assessments to determine whether they would be able to work safely.

Depending on the assessment, employers are then required to consider workplace adjustments and additional protective measures, which are subject to regular review.

Members are advised to get in touch for support if they are concerned that their employer is not doing enough to protect their safety.

“We know many members who have been shielding for months are extremely concerned about being told to return into hospital environments where the risk of Covid-19 remains higher than in the general community,” HCSA General Secretary Dr Paul Donaldson said.

“This new guidance sets out the rights of hospital doctors affected and the responsibilities of employers to protect their health.

“HCSA’s primary concern is the safety of our members and their colleagues. Any member who is worried with their current situation is advised to get in touch urgently.”

Following the rule change on 1st August, change in duties or temporary redeployment will be among the remedies open to employers, who are advised to “endeavour to enable a member of staff to work from home where the risk assessment deems it is not safe for them to physically return.”

A number of options are also available on a case-by-case basis, which includes local special leave, annual leave, unpaid leave, and suspension on full pay.