By Tara Rippin • 31 March 2021 • 17:49
British workers to get extra protections.
‘Shielders’ should not have to choose between their health and livelihood, argues union.
TUC is calling on the UK government to “urgently rethink sending shielders back to work”.
Shielders are those identified as being at the highest risk of serious complications or death from Covid due to their existing health conditions – such as cancer patients, those with severe respiratory conditions and others undergoing immunosuppressive treatment.
The government has told hundreds of thousands of shielding workers to return to the workplace from tomorrow, Thursday, April 1.
Although the government’s guidance to work from home if you can remains in place until at least June, thousands of shielding workers have jobs which can’t be done from home, in open sectors such as public services, manufacturing and construction.
“Employers have been given no additional guidance to consider the specific risks of those in the shielded group,” said TUC, adding: “The vast majority of shielders have not received their second vaccine dose – and one in 10 have not even received their first dose.
“The first vaccine dose gives 52-75 per cent protection from the virus. Changing advice to all shielders, regardless of their vaccination status, is deeply irresponsible.
“It is premature to ask shielders to return to workplaces when it is not yet even considered safe to open non-essential retail, which remains closed until April 12,” said the union.
Among other issues, the TUC believes the government should extend the shielding deadline and guarantee that no shielding worker is forced to return to a workplace outside of their home before the end of restrictions on 21 June, ensuring that furlough and individual benefits are available to support this.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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