Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for people on the Highest Risk List

Advice to help people on the Highest Risk List make informed decisions and access support services.

This document is part of a collection

Advice on working 

Advice and guidance for people on the highest risk list (previously known as the shielding list) about working and how to keep yourself safe at work.

Reducing workplace risk


We continue to encourage workplaces to consider hybrid and flexible working practices. We are encouraging employers to take the needs of those on the Highest Risk List into consideration when implementing hybrid working. This includes people who might prefer to work from home, or people who are keen to return to the workplace. Read our guidance for employers about hybrid working.

As of 21 March 2022, workplaces are not required by law to have regard to Scottish Government guidance about minimising risk of transmission of COVID-19 or take reasonable practicable measure to reduce transmission. However, we continue to encourage workplaces to continue with all protective measures and we have published new guidance to provide advice on steps employers can take to reduce the risk of transmission in the workplace and create a safer environment for all. 

Although the requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessment is removed from 1 April, it is recommended that workplaces continue to consider COVID-19 transmission risks as part of their assurance procedures. For more details, including on workplace risk assessments, see the latest safer workplaces guidance.

If you still feel unsafe

You should discuss any concerns with your manager or your employer. You can also get further advice from:

  • Occupational Health Services (if your employer offers them)
  • the Health and Safety representative in your workplace
  • HR (your employer’s Human Resources team, if there is one)
  • your trade union or professional body
  • staff with no union representation can seek advice and assistance from the STUC and Scottish Hazards
  • the Citizens Advice website or the free Citizens Advice Helpline on 0800 028 1456, (Monday to Friday, office hours)
  • the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)



From 1 May, we will no longer advise people to test if they have symptoms.  If anyone has symptoms of COVID-19 or flu or other infectious illness, they should stay at home in order to aid recovery and reduce the risk of passing their illness to others. Find more information about testing in our Test and Protect transition plan.

Following the public health advice


Face Coverings

Although it is no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings in certain indoor places, businesses and organisations may wish to strongly recommend, or indeed require, people to wear face coverings in areas where the risk of transmission is higher or where your risk assessment supports the wearing of them, noting exemptions.

Read COVID-19 guidance for businesses and workplaces here.

Read the latest COVID-19 guidance for everyone in Scotland here.

Physical distancing

Keeping some distance from people from other households and avoiding crowded indoor places - even though no longer legally required – is still a sensible precaution.

Hand hygiene

Wash your hands regularly using soap and water or sanitising hand gel. It’s important to do this after touching hard surfaces and common touch points (such as hand rails, key pads or door handles).

Respiratory hygiene

Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue. Put used tissues into a bin and wash hands immediately. If you do not have tissues to hand, catch coughs and sneezes in the crook of your elbow.


If indoors ask to be near good ventilation such as by an open window and avoid crowded places, especially indoor spaces, or places where there is little natural ventilation. 

Distance Aware badges and lanyards

Distance Aware badges and lanyards can be worn to show others you would like them to give you extra space and take extra care around you. If it would help you feel more comfortable when at work, you can wear a badge or lanyard with the Distance Aware logo. You can pick up a badge or lanyard at your community or mobile library, or a badge at most ASDA stores.

We are also asking employers to promote and raise awareness of Distance Aware in the workplace.  Find out more about Distance Aware.

Supporting your return to work


You may have been working from home or your employment may have changed since the pandemic started. You may be finding it hard to return to work.

There are support options that may be able to help you. For example if:

  • you’re unemployed at the moment
  • you would like to reskill to do a different kind of work
  • you have not yet been able to go back to work after furlough

Fair Start Scotland

If you are currently unemployed, Fair Start Scotland may be able to help. This is a voluntary service. Taking part will not affect any benefits you get.

The service offers one-to-one support for up to 18 months. This support is tailored to your needs to help you overcome any barriers to work and help you find the job that is right for you. Once in employment, in-work support is provided for a further 12 months. Being on the Highest Risk List should make you automatically eligible for Fair Start Scotland support. 

Find out more on the Fair Start Scotland website. You can also phone Fair Start Scotland for free on 0800 804 8108 (Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm).

No One Left Behind

No One Left Behind can also help you if you are not currently in employment, education, or training. This voluntary employability service offers help to access volunteering, training, employment, or educational opportunities. Advice is also available on ways to maximise income, cut living costs, and access benefits and resources such as childcare.

Find out more on the Employability in Scotland website, including contact details for accessing the service through your local authority.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS)

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) provides a range of career advice on redundancy, employment, online learning, immediately available jobs, and wider support services.

You can access SDS support from:

  • the My World of Work website, which can help with everything from finding and applying for a job to reskilling and changing career path
  • the online Skills Discovery tool, which you can use to discover your transferable skills, understand your value and decide your next move
  • the free SDS Helpline on 0800 917 8000 (Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm), where you can talk to expert work advisers
  • the network of local SDS centres

Access to work

You may be able to get support from Access to Work if you’re disabled or have a physical or mental health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job. To get this support, you must be in or about to return to paid work. Some benefits may also affect whether you can get this.

Support available includes:

  • an Access to Work grant to pay for things like special equipment, help getting to work, or a job coach
  • mental health support
  • help to assess changes your employer could make to meet your needs

Find out more about Access to Work on GOV.UK. This includes more information about who can get this support.


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