SHIELDING Brits will no longer receive statutory sick pay from August as the government said they will be able to return to work.
A total of 2.2 million people in England who are currently shielding can meet in groups of six people from July 6.
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They can also go back to their jobs if their workplaces are protected from Covid-19.
Along with statutory sick pay, support packages created by the government, which are filled with food and essentials, will also be stopped at the end of July.
But the Department for Health and Social Care said people will still have their priority for supermarket delivery slots, can still access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.
During a press briefing on Monday evening, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said shielding was being "paused", and would be brought back for some groups if necessary.
Who is currently shielding?
Medics created a list of vulnerable people who are at a bigger risk of being severely ill from coronavirus.
The government said they must isolate themselves from others until July 6.
These people are:
- Solid organ transplant recipients.
- People with specific cancers
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell)
- People on immunosuppression treatments to significantly increase risk of infection
- Women who are pregnant with a significant heart disease.
He added: "We've taken this decision based on clinical advice on the safety of being able to go back to work.
"We've extended the shielding programme until the end of July and then it will be paused.
"I use 'paused' very deliberately, because the list will continue and should the clinical advice be that we need to bring it back in, then that's what we'll do.
"We want to support people to get their lives back to as close as normal as possible, especially for those who have been shielding, for who that the advice has had such a big impact on their lives."
From April 16, employers were told to start paying sick pay to those who were shielding from the first day an employee was off work.
But they did not have to pay any money for any shielding that took place before April 16.
The weekly rate for statutory sick pay is £95.85 for up to 28 weeks.
What support can I get once my sick pay payments stop?
For those who are worried about returning to work in August, there are still options for you once your SSP is stopped.
- Speak to your employer – The government has said those who are concerned should speak to their employers about how they're feeling to try and come to an agreement. Matt Hancock said he expect employers to "do the right thing".
- Universal credit – You can apply for Universal Credit, which you're now able to do online.
- Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussel Trust website.
- If you're renting, speak to your landlord – A ban on evictions has been extended until 23 August in England & Wales, so your landlord can't kick you out of your home if you're struggling. However, you have to set up an affordable repayment plan with your landlord, which takes your circumstances into account. It's best to pay as much as you can, when you can, to stop arrears building up.
- If you're paying a mortgage, ask your bank for a three month mortgage holiday – The payment freeze has been pushed until October 31 this year. We've created a guide of how to apply for one here.
- Payment holidays – You can get a three month payment holiday on your loans and credit cards, and you have until 9 July 2020 to request one. Here's how to apply for one.
Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said people might still be worried about returning to work, despite the new guidance.
She said: "This may involve the need to travel on public transport and to mix more frequently with others, leaving workers forced to choose between their work and their health."
She added employers must still enable people to work from home where possible.
In May, it was revealed two million Brits applied for Universal Credit during the coronavirus crisis.
Earlier this month, the Social Security Advisory Committee said Brits claiming benefits should get an extra £1,000.
And Martin Lewis has revealed how he’s fighting to help those missing out on coronavirus cash support.
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