How does an employer keep their clinically vulnerable staff safe from catching COVID?

Hi everyone,

Now that the restrictions are being lifted as of this Thursday and no more free COVID tests from April can someone please advise on what an employer's duty of care is to their clinically vulnerable staff?

Since the beginning of the pandemic our office had a Perspex screen up at each workstation to protect staff from catching COVID. Today, the Perspex screens have been removed, no more face masks, etc, and employees like me who have a suppressed immune system caused by RA and the taking of Methotrexate are being, I feel, hung out to dry. People who are cavalier in their attitude towards COVID are not going to worry about coming into work and passing the virus onto all and sundry. Another factor is that if someone has COVID that employee will not be paid and will come to work.

The Government announced today that the over 75s and clinically vulnerable people will be offered a further booster jab in the spring. What happens until then? Just hope and pray we don't catch COVID.

I will continue to wear a face mask when out in public and if all of us clinically vulnerable people wear masks then we can make a stand and make people notice. Thankfully, face masks are still available to buy in chemists but how long will this be before the stance is taken to remove them from the shelves. It seems to me as though the Government is trying to fool everyone into thinking that it is okay now to go back to normal. A lot has changed. Just look at the death rate which has far exceeded flu deaths. The only positive thing about COVID is the vaccination programme which has helped us clinically vulnerable people to have some protection.

Stay safe everyone and all of us clinically vulnerable people must stick together and fight for what we believe in. We must be better protected and also the general public should be better educated as to how serious COVID is.

Karen 🐹

Comments

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 393

    Hi @Kazza52 ,

    Im unable to get vaccinated due to having risk of blood clots after suffering a PE a few years back so basically I’m thrown to the wolves but do we really believe any govt gives a fig profit before people and we give they take the idiot who fronts this is governed by the donors that got him there business beings, nothing will ever shock or surprise me after this I’m still going to wear my mask as if there is another variant how will we know I mean they’re stopping testing so no doubt they will again delay and dither

    take care 😊

  • ClaireT
    ClaireT Member Posts: 4

    Hi @Kazza52

    I agree completely about our voice needing to be heard. That sense of invisibility is overwhelming at times.

    Your employer is covered by both H&S legislation and Equalities Act requirements. I don't know what kind of an organisation/business you work for but there should be someone who has a lead responsibility for H&S, and if you have the confidence (which can be very difficult) I would recommend talking to them directly to ask them what they are putting in place to protect their CEV staff. I would suggest using email so that you get their responses in writing.

    On a individual level, I would recommend talking to your manager/HR team about the reasonable adjustments that you need to enable you to be able to do your job safely ( I am making an assumption that you would be covered by the Equalities Act)

    If you are a member of Trade Union and/or have a staff disability network you may feel safer being part of a collective action, rather than having to manage all of this as an individual.

    I am lucky in that I work for a large public sector organisation, but even with them, we have had to keep reminding them that their CEV staff are still here, and that the risks to us are not yet going away, indeed are probably increasing as other people no longer feel that they need to take basic precautions.

    The Government have created a huge contradiction for many workplaces: employers are either going to have to request their staff take more precautions than the law now allows them to to protect their CEV staff, or fail in their duties to their CEV staff.

    Good luck

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 27,471

    Surely you can ask your employer to keep your own perspex up @Kazza52 ? I will be wearing a mask until I feel safe and the next wave when it comes has been and gone.

    Our employers have a duty to keep us safe at work. What's the harm in them continuing some of the measures? Like signs asking people to remember to wash their hands etc....

    My husband has his own business and intends to pay his staff for the foreseeable if they need to isolate (even if they don't have to now they will be) and they have kept all measures in place 2 (not 1) m distance between work stations antibac wipes if staff use the bathroom. Each brings their own drinks in etc

    BUT I have some reassuring news about my neighbour who is late 70s CEV wheelchair user RA and spinal injury so paralysed from chest down. Needs carers several times a day. She had COVID and for her it was very mild. I am clinging on to the hope that I would be the same. I know we are all different, but her experience has really reassured me.

    Take care everyone

  • KazandNoo
    KazandNoo Member Posts: 123

    Kazza52,I understand completely. I work in a lab so the work is part out & about collecting samples (with my mask on and trying to keep distance from the 95% non mask wearers) part testing in the 2 labs (with mask and same situation as collecting samples) and the rest office based entering data,the saving grace being since the start of the pandemic I moved into a small adjoining office on my own next to the main one as I'm not sharing their air con spread germs!

    Is this a possibility for you,is there a little room you could have so that you feel safe? Is there a union rep/manager/HR person that you could discuss your fears with?

    I must admit that I have to come into contact with people at work in a way that I certainly don't do in my personal life,I haven't been to a cinema,restaurant etc for 2 years and nor do I want to. I go shopping very occasionally with mask,groceries are delivered. I'm on biologic injections and told by my nurse specialist as I've had 4 jabs I'm as protected as I can be,but they don't know how much and if I get Covid I can access antivirals. But I do have a fear of Covid so would rather do everything that I can to avoid it rather than risk it.

    Your post spoke to me,and you're right,us clinically vulnerable need to stick together,it can feel isolating as I don't personally know of anyone else in my position to discuss it with. When I read some of the posts on here I realise there are lots in similar situations.

    Let's know how you get on,x

  • Dash29
    Dash29 Member Posts: 2

    Hi, Anyone had Omicron after Rituximab infusion? Just worried now all restrictions and testing will end soon.I am due treatment and keep putting it off as I’m scared after reading articles that the vaccines are not effective with this particular biological. There will be no way of knowing how many cases are out there soon or when new variants appear. Life is going to be unbearable for many immuno-compromised. No way will I feel comfortable in indoor settings, surrounded by unmasked, possibly covid-positive people. All the hand washing etc will soon be forgotten. Cannot believe health workers do not need to be vaccinated or wear masks, also no isolation rules even for them working in healthcare settings! I have outpatient appointments at different departments throughout the year due to related health issues.

    Getting so stressed, as is my daughter who has been working from home to protect me. Her boss is declaring we’ve all had it now and everyone’s jabbed, it’s all over in his opinion and he wants everyone crammed back in the office as it used to be.

  • Poppyjane
    Poppyjane Moderator Posts: 357

    Hello @Dash29 ,welcome to the online community,

    You are concerned about having a rituximab infusion whilst potentially being exposed to the omicron variant in hospital outpatients, the work place etc. There are many members who are CEV and who share your concerns about the lifting of restrictions and the attitude of the general public.

    Would it make you less anxious for you or your daughter to talk with our Helpline team to discuss these issues and then maybe your rheumatology department nurse or consultant. The Helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.00 - 6.00

    0800 5200 520.

    I attach a link about Rituximab which I hope you will find helpful.

    It is great that you have found us and we hope to be able to support you and your daughter in the future.

    Poppyjane ( Moderator)

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