Q&As

Where a worker has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable for the purposes of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the nature of their health condition means that it falls within the definition of ‘disability’ in the Equality Act 2010, would it constitute a reasonable adjustment to put the worker on furlough if they are not able to work from home?

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Published on LexisPSL on 24.11.2020

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Where a worker has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable for the purposes of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the nature of their health condition means that it falls within the definition of ‘disability’ in the Equality Act 2010, would it constitute a reasonable adjustment to put the worker on furlough if they are not able to work from home?
  • Public health guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to shield during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Disability discrimination and the duty to make reasonable adjustments
  • What adjustments are required?
  • Placing a shielding employee on furlough under the CJRS as a reasonable adjustment

Where a worker has been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable for the purposes of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the nature of their health condition means that it falls within the definition of ‘disability’ in the Equality Act 2010, would it constitute a reasonable adjustment to put the worker on furlough if they are not able to work from home?

When addressing this question, it will be relevant to consider:

  1. current public health guidance

  2. the nature of the duty to make reasonable adjustments

  3. what adjustments are required

  4. the question of furlough as a reasonable adjustment

Public health guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to shield during the coronavirus pandemic

Under the national lockdown restrictions that apply in England from 5 November–2 December 2020, individuals who have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable have been strongly advised to shield, ie:

  1. to work from home, and

  2. if they cannot work from home, not to attend work while the lockdown restrictions are in place

Those who cannot work from home may, subject to eligibility, be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit (see: Cabinet Office guidance: New National Restrictions from 5 November, and DHSC: Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19).

In the absence of alternative arrangements with their employer, those who are not able to work from home accordingly face the

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