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Coronavirus advice

Last reviewed on 01 April 2020

Updated on Wednesday 1 April, 6am: This is a fast-moving situation. We'll continually update this page, but if in doubt check the government and NHS websites for the most up to date advice.

You can find the latest government health guidance on coronavirus on NHS Direct. You can find up-to-date travel advice on the GOV.UK website.

If you are in the Isle of Man we are developing separate guidance, but for now you can visit The Isle of Man government website for specific advice to you.

If you are a line manager check our coronavirus advice page for managers.

We want to say a huge thank you to all our colleagues who are playing a huge role in feeding the nation and supporting our communities.

Welfare calls to colleagues who are self-isolating for 7/14 days

Co-op is keen to support colleagues who are currently self-isolating due to symptoms themselves, or living with others in the same household who are displaying symptoms.

With this in mind members of the HR team will be making welfare calls to colleagues recorded as self-isolating o check in with them, see how they are doing, ensure they are getting the support they need and establish a potential return to work date.

They will also be completing a data protection check when speaking to the colleague to authenticate them and will therefore be asking colleagues to confirm their employee number as part of this process. Thank you to our colleagues in advance for their participation and support with these calls.

Latest NHS advice

These are the actions you should take if you think you or someone in your household has symptoms.  

You should stay at home if you have either: 

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) 

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.  Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.  

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll need to stay at home for 7 days. 

After 7 days: 

  • if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to stay at home 
  • if you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal 

You do not need to stay at home if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone. 

If you live with someone who has symptoms

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. 

If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms. 

If you get symptoms, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you're at home for longer than 14 days. 

If you do not get symptoms, you can stop staying at home after 14 days. 

What to do when self-Isolating

Stay at home

You and all household members should remain at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.

If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, other than exercise, and in that case at a safe distance from others. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in your house became ill.

If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you will need to ask friends or relatives. Alternatively, you can order medication by phone or online. You can also order your shopping online. Make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online. The delivery driver should not come into your home.

Things to think about:

  • plan ahead and think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 7 or 14 days
  • talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need to make your stay at home a success
  • think about and plan how you can get access to food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period
  • ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online, but make sure these are left outside your home for you to collect
  • make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
  • think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
  • many people find it helpful to plan out the full 14 days, such as on a make-shift calendar. You may also find it helpful to plan in advance what you will do if, for example, someone in the household were to feel much worse, such as have difficulties breathing
  • when you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses that can help you take light exercise in your home

Vulnerable groups

'Extremely vulnerable' group

People falling into the extremely vulnerable group include: 

  • solid organ transplant recipients 
  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment 
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer 
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs 
  • people with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  • people with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  • people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Shielding

If a colleague is in the extremely vulnerable group, NHS in England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice. If a colleague thinks they fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed above and they have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, they should discuss your concerns with their GP or hospital clinician. 

You get advice on shielding on GOV.UK.   

Co-op Approach to 'extremely vulnerable' groups

If a colleague falls into this category, then they must follow the Government advice and self-isolate for up to 12 weeks.  

Their line manager will need to complete an online self-isolation form for them in order to log their case and ensure you do not suffer a detriment in terms of pay. 

'Vulnerable' group

This guidance advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people, in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus. The government are also advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. 

This group includes those who are: 

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions) 
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic
  • obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis  
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure 
  • chronic kidney disease 
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above) 
  • those who are pregnant 

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus. 

They are to: 

  1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus. These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough. 
  2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport.
  3. Work from home, where possible. 
  4. Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together. 
  5. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media 
  6. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services 

Everyone must follow these measures as much as is practicable.   You can get more advice on social distancing on GOV.UK.

Co-op approach to social distancing groups

If a colleague falls into this category then you must follow the above social distancing measures to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you are over 70 or pregnant.

Colleagues over 70 or pregnant do not have to self-isolate if they do not wish, and as such can come to work or work from home where possible. However, the business is taking the approach that they can self-isolate from the 21 March 2020 if they feel at risk. The government is advising anyone in this group to social distance. 

If a colleague chooses to self-isolate, then they must speak to their line manager who will then need to complete an online self-isolation form to log your case and ensure that colleagues do not suffer a detriment in terms of pay. 

If a colleague has an underlying health condition, that the business is not already aware of we may need to discuss this in more detail to ensure we are supporting you in the best way. Therefore, their line manager may look to ask some questions in relation to their underlying health condition, which may involve seeking medical evidence to support self-isolation up to 12 weeks. Once this has been discussed, their line manager will then complete an online self-isolation form, in order to log the case and ensure the colleague does not suffer a detriment in terms of pay. 

What should a colleague do if they have someone else living with them who is currently shielding?

If they have someone else living with them, they are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves. They should do what they can to support them in shielding and they should stringently follow guidance on social distancing, reducing their contact outside the home. If they care for, but don’t actually live with someone who is extremely vulnerable they should still stringently follow guidance on social distancing. 

Whilst the rest of their household are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves, we would expect them to do what they can to support in terms of shielding and to stringently follow guidance on social distancing. 

  1. Minimise as much as possible the time other family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated. 
  2. Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, you should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure you use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes. 
  3. If you do share a toilet and bathroom with others, it is important that they are cleaned after use every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first. 
  4. If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while they are present. If you can, you should take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these. 

We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. They should do their very best to follow this guidance and everyone in their household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.  If the rest of their household stringently follow advice on social distancing and minimise the risk of spreading the virus within the home by following the advice above, there is no need for them to also shield alongside you. 

What if a colleague has symptoms and lives with a vulnerable person?

If they live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days. 

If they have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. 

If a colleague has other symptoms that are not mentioned above but you believe are related to coronavirus then they should first use the NHS online service.   

There is no need to contact NHS 111 unless they feel they cannot cope with the symptoms at home or their condition gets worse. They should use the online service before contacting NHS via 111. This latest guidance from the Government supersedes all previous advice. 

This means that where possible when self-isolating people should not go out even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise, and in that case, they must be at a safe distance from others. If necessary, they should ask for help from others for their daily necessities. And if that is not possible, then people supporting should do what they can to limit their social contact when leaving the house to get supplies. 

You can read full NHS advice on self-isolating on the NHS website.

Advice for everyone

General public advice

In addition, even if colleagues don’t have any symptoms and if no one in their household has either, there are more measures our colleagues need to follow: 

  • People should stay at home (with the exception of key workers) and people should be working from home wherever possible 
  • Stop non-essential contact with others, with the exception of medical reasons to provide care or to help a vulnerable person (at a safe distance 2m/6ft apart) 
  • Stop travelling to and from work unless it is absolutely necessary (in other words if you are a key worker) 
  • Shop for basic necessities as infrequently as possible and use delivery services where possible 
  • If people go outside to buy food for example, people should social distance by keeping at least 2m/6ft apart 
  • No public gatherings of more than 2 people unless they are part of the same household 
  • Only leave the house to exercise once a day (e.g. a run/walk/cycle) alone or as part of the same household 
  • Only use the NHS when you really need to and, in this event, go online rather than ringing NHS 111. 

Guidance and support for Co-op colleagues

As the situation continues to change the advice may also be updated. If in doubt, follow the NHS website guidance.

There is a wealth of resources on the LifeWorks app to help and colleagues and family members can call them on 0800 069 8854, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week if they need to talk to someone.

You must keep your line manager informed at all times of any potential symptoms or contact with anyone in the same household who has symptoms. Colleagues must also follow the normal absence reporting procedures if advised by NHS 111 or government guidance to self-isolate.

School closures and key workers

The government has now outlined that schools will remain open for key workers. Key workers include retail and funeral frontline colleagues i.e. those in stores, funeral homes and depots, and those in direct support of these roles, such as colleagues in Co-op Business Services who are critical to our operation.

If you’re still not sure if you’re a key worker, speak to your line manager who can contact ER Services for guidance.

Please be aware that in a two-parent family, where one parent can work from home or alternative arrangements can be made, this should be considered first, as schools are running on skeleton staff for those who need them most.

We think you may need written confirmation from us to be able to take your child into school.  This hasn’t been fully communicated by the Government yet, but we’ll keep you informed as details emerge.   

Key workers list - Government’s advice:

Food and other necessary goods This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

We have identified that the following colleagues are key workers following the government’s advice:

  • all food store colleagues 
  • funeralcare colleagues – frontline 
  • insurance colleagues
  • all depot colleagues
  • field teams in food
  • CBS colleagues   You can find the full government list of key workers on GOV.UK.

Non-key worker colleagues who can work from home

If you are an office-based colleague who can work from home, you should now do so, whether you’re a parent or not.

If you are a parent, this will likely mean you have young children who are also at home with you, which may affect how and when you can work most effectively. We can all make this work with some give and take on both sides, so have a chat with your line manager about how you can continue to work alongside your parental responsibilities. There is also the option of taking any remaining holiday or taking unpaid leave if you wish to do so.   

Non-key worker colleagues who can’t work from home

If you’re not a key worker and you can’t work from home, but you have childcare or carer responsibilities, your line manager can now agree one-week’s enhanced Coronavirus emergency leave to support you while you make alternative arrangements.

If you think you need this, speak to your line manager. You’ll be expected to use the time put in place arrangements ready for when you return to work.  In some circumstances this may be extended to up to two-weeks depending on your situation.

However, if you have any remaining holiday from the current holiday year (2019-2020), you’ll be asked to take this first.   

I am a key worker, but cannot get my children into childcare provision or school?

As per government advice, and Co-op confirming that the following business areas are identified key workers:

  • all food store colleagues
  • funeralcare colleagues – frontline
  • insurance colleagues
  • all depot colleagues
  • field teams in food
  • CBS colleagues

Key worker parents can continue to send their child/children to school. This enables key workers to continue to carry out their vital work at this difficult time. If for any reason your child’s school/childcare provision is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area.

In terms of evidence, key workers can access a Co-op letter of authority from their line manager or via the link on the Coronavirus page.

If, for any reason after attempting the above you are still unable to secure a place for your children, then please speak to your line manager for support. Line managers can also contact ER Services for advice should this situation arise.

I am a key worker, but I don’t want to send my child to school?

We expect you to follow government advice and send your child to school. If you choose not to send your child to school we will not be paying for your leave, however you can look to take annual leave, swap your shifts where possible, or take unpaid leave.

I’m a key worker, but I can work from home, how will this work in practice?

If you are an office-based colleague who can work from home, you should now do so, whether you are a parent or not.

If you are a parent, this is likely to mean that you may have young children who are also at home with you, which may affect how and when you can work most effectively. We can however make this work with some give and take on both sides, so you’ll need to have a chat with your line manager about how you can continue to work alongside your parental responsibilities.

There is also the option of taking any remaining holiday or taking unpaid leave if you wish to do so.

I’m not a key worker and I can’t find alternative care. What should I do?

Firstly, we encourage you to look at all alternatives, including working different hours, working from home and alternative care ideas.

If for any reason, you are unable to find alternative childcare then you line manager can agree one-week’s enhanced Coronavirus emergency leave to support you whilst you make alternative arrangements.

If you need this help, you should speak to your line manager. You’ll be expected to use the time to put in place arrangements ready for when you return to work. If you are still experiencing problems relating to alternative arrangements beyond one-week, please speak to your line manager about your situation.

I am a key worker and I’m struggling to fulfil my normal working hours due to dropping/collecting my child to/from an alternative school/setting?

We understand that this is a challenging time for parents, if you are struggling and need flexibility with your hours at either the start or end of your shift, we encourage you to speak with your line manager to agree a temporary practical solution.

I’m unsure if I am a key worker, who is defined as a key worker and what evidence do I need to support this?

We have identified in the Co-op that the following colleagues are key workers following the government’s advice:

  • all food store colleagues
  • funeralcare colleagues – frontline
  • insurance colleagues
  • all depot colleagues
  • field teams in food
  • CBS colleagues

In terms of evidence, key workers can access a Co-op letter of authority from their line manager or via the link on the Coronavirus page.

I am a key worker who needs to travel to and from work, do I need anything official from the Co-op to enable me to travel between my home and place of work?

Currently there is no requirement for businesses to provide movement letters (confirming ability to travel), however we are monitoring this closely and will look to produce something if required. In the meantime, it may be beneficial to keep a payslip or ID badge to hand.

Absence related to coronavirus

If your self-isolating in line with the latest government guidelines or any other medical authority you should inform your line manager as per absence reporting procedure, then line managers must log the case with ER Services using our new self-service online form to log the absence and ensure we treat colleagues correctly and fairly. You should report any absence in the normal way, in line with the absence policy, including where the absence relates to caring responsibilities in relation to the virus.

I think I may have the virus due to having symptoms, what should I do?

You should follow the latest NHS advice detailed at the start of this document.  

I have contracted the virus, what should I do?

If you test positive for the virus you should strictly follow the NHS advice which may include self-isolation/hospitalisation and keep in regular contact with your line manager. 

I believe a friend or member of my family has the virus, what should I do?

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day your symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. 

If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, you need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms. 

If you get symptoms, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you are at home for longer than 14 days. If you do not get symptoms you can stop staying at home after 14 days. 

I am self-isolating at home and another member of the household develops the symptoms, do I need to further self-isolate?

No, the NHS advice is that you should self-isolate for the full 14 days from the day the first person had the symptoms in the household.     

I have contracted the virus, should my work colleagues also stay at home?

If you contract the virus we will work with the relevant authorities on our next steps which may include colleagues self-isolating or deep cleaning etc.      The advice published to date suggests that there is no need to stay at home unless you or a member of their household is suffering from the symptoms of the virus as stated by the NHS guidance and you should therefore self-isolate as per the current advice at the start of this document.  

Can I self-certify more than 7 days’ worth of absence?

If you are self-isolating for 7 days, there is no requirement for a fit note. You must still follow the normal absence reporting procedures.

If you are off for longer than 7 days due to self-isolating, then you will need to complete the NHS online isolation note process in order to produce an isolation note which you then need to send to your line manager. This could be on email or via post for example.

If you are choosing to self-isolate and are over 70 or pregnant and for the 12 weeks you do not need a fit note at this time, you need to speak with your line manager. If you have an underlying health condition and feel you need to self-isolate, then although there is no requirement for a fit note at this time your line manager may ask for additional evidence as noted in the question regarding self-isolation due to an underlying condition.  

Are there any special measures that we should be taking at work?

To reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus colleagues should:

  • cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, using a tissue and placing the tissue in the bin immediately followed by washing their hands 
  • throw the tissue away quickly and carefully 
  • wash their hands regularly with soap and water – do this for at least 20 seconds 
  • clean hard surfaces (like door handles and remote controls) frequently with a normal cleaning product  

I’m concerned about my pay following the latest Government, NHS or GP advice to self-isolate for 7 days? Will 3 day waiting and/or triggers apply?

The business is committed to ensuring that no colleague will suffer a detriment as a result of being advised by government advice, NHS or GP advice to self-isolate or indeed test positive. Please speak to your line manager regarding your specific circumstances, they will then log any suspected cases of the virus with our ER team using our dedicated online process. 

We can confirm that 3-day waiting does not apply, and we will not be treating any self-isolation or confirmed coronavirus cases as a trigger.   

A colleague lives at home with someone in a vulnerable or high-risk group, should they self-isolate?

The government have not advised that everyone in the household should self-isolate if someone in the household is in a vulnerable category, however everyone in the household should comply with social distancing. The coop is putting in measures to assist all colleagues with social distancing whilst in work, therefore there is no requirement for colleagues in this position to self-isolate. Please refer to the guidance at the top of this document for advice on social distance.  

Cleaning and hygiene

Help protect yourself against coronavirus and do the following things.

Wash your hands regularly

Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. The water can be any temperature. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Avoid touching your face

Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Keep to social distancing rules by staying at least 2 metres away from others.

Find the latest advice about social distancing on the government website.

Cover your cough or sneeze

Use a tissue or your sleeve. If you use a tissue, throw it in the bin straight away then wash your hands.

Clean surfaces regularly

Clean and disinfect any frequently touched objects and surfaces such as your work area or door handles. It is not known how long coronavirus can live on objects and surfaces so regular cleaning can minimise the risk.

Wear a face mask

There is little evidence that these stop coronavirus from spreading but colleagues you can wear one if you want to.

Transport and travel

Find the latest travel updates on the Traveline website.

You can also check your local transport providers.

If you are travelling for work in the UK

You must only travel to work if it is essential and you cannot work from home. If you can work from home, then you should. Speak to your line manager if you are struggling to get to work.

Any planned business events have been postponed or cancelled. Use telephone or online meetings if you need to contact colleagues, suppliers or other stakeholders.

If you are travelling for work outside of the UK

Speak to your line manager before booking anything. You are insured to travel on business for Co-op if you follow the advice from the government.

Find the latest travel advice on the government website.

If you have booked a hotel or train tickets, call Clarity Travel to see if you can change the booking or get a refund.

Read Co-op's travel and expenses policy.

If you are travelling for personal reasons

Check with your travel provider to see if you can still make your journey. You may also want to check with your travel insurance provider to see what you are covered for in relation to bookings and refunds.

If you have returned from an affected area and are displaying coronavirus symptoms, follow the government’s advice on self-isolating.

Annual leave

You should take any holidays already booked for this holiday year, so you get a break from work. This holiday year is from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

If you want to change or cancel holidays that are booked for this holiday year, speak to your line manager.

If you have unused holiday from the previous holiday year, you can carry this over to the new holiday year. Speak to your line manager if you want to do this. You can carry over a maximum of 5 days.

Other questions

What is the approach if we experience racial tension in terms of targeted abuse and/or comments made towards our colleagues/customers?

We do not tolerate any form of abusive behaviour towards our colleagues/or customers.  If you experience an issue, please speak to your line manager.   

I am due to visit an infected area on holiday, what should I do?

You must inform their line manager immediately if you are due to visit an affected area and adhere to strict FCO guidelines 

What other method of communication can I use for meetings?

The following options are available if face to face meetings are cancelled:

  • conference calls 
  • video conferencing 
  • Yammer  
  • Teams (for those who have access) 


If you do not have a teleconference number, please contact the IT Service Desk on 0330 606 1844. For Food Store or Distribution Centres, please call 0330 606 9490. Alternatively raise a request on HEAT. 

If a manager needs to brief large teams for instance in a depot its advised to break this up into smaller teams to have less people in one place at the same time   

I’m concerned about social contact or hand shaking, what should I do?

We recognise that we are all individuals, and some may have more boundaries than others in relation to social contact and personal space.  Given the nature of Coronavirus and public awareness it is likely that we will see a heightened level of apprehension towards the use of hand shaking, hugging etc. We are therefore encouraging colleagues to be respectful of each other’s view/boundaries and to talk about any concerns they may have with each other or with their line manager. Should any misunderstanding arise, we are advising line managers to discuss any concerns with the colleagues concerned and contact ER Services for further advice.  

Reports on the news and/or social media are concerning me, what should I do?

To avoid rumour and scaremongering please refer to the official websites such as the NHS or GOV.UK.

If you are still concerned after reviewing these, please speak to your line manager.   

I am concerned about wearing headsets in work which may have been used by other colleagues?

Headsets are a key work tool in many areas of our business and they enable us to carry out various activities.  In order to reduce colleague concerns surrounding the multi-use of headsets we advise cleaning your headsets with antibacterial wipes after each use to reduce the spread of germs.   

Should I start to work from home (in those areas where working from home is set up)?

If your role allows you to work from home, then you should be working from home for the foreseeable future to reduce contact with others.  Please discuss this with your manager in any event and agree a practical solution.  

We understand this won’t be possible for everyone because of the different work we do but that’s why we’re doing other things to help minimise the risks in all our workplaces. 

We ask that managers keep in regular contact with their colleagues, keep communication channels open and flowing as well as continue to aid and drive engagement in their teams at a distance.  

Can I reclaim household expenses (utility costs etc) associated with working from home?

In business areas which are set up to enable working from home, colleagues ordinarily have access to a company laptop or desktop which enable access our Co-op systems via an encrypted secure CAG tag. In addition, colleagues may also be in possession of a company mobile phone to enable them to work effectively at a distance without incurring costs. 

Given that most UK homes have broadband installed and our conference call facility and Teams have a freephone dial option there shouldn’t be a need to reclaim any expenses.  Furthermore, as there is no requirement to travel to and from work you will potentially be saving on fuel, parking and other associated travel expenditure whilst working from home.  

What guidance should I follow during a period of self-isolation?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection, however mild, do not leave your home for 7 days from when your symptoms started or 14 days if someone in the same household as you displays symptoms. (See ending isolation section below for more information). This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious.

You should also:

  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home 
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need to stay at home 
  • stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home if possible 
  • sleep alone, if possible 
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water 
  • stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible

You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation if you or a member of your household are displaying symptoms. If, however your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online, if you have no internet access, call NHS 111 or GP/MEDS if you are in IOM.  For a medical emergency dial 999.    You can read more supporting information on GOV.UK.

Does the temperature of the water matter when washing my hands?

No, you can use any temperature of water to wash your hands. Cold water and warm water are equally effective at killing germs and viruses so long as you use soap and adhere to the advice to wash your hand for 20 seconds.    

I have just returned from an acutely affected area do I still need to self-isolate?

No, further to the latest government advice there is no need to self-isolate unless you are experiencing symptoms of the Coronavirus as outlined throughout this FAQ document.   

I am a colleague as well as a student residing at college/university and my classes been suspended and/or my college/university is closing, and I want to return home to my family, what shall I do?

Wherever possible colleagues need to continue to work their contracted hours at their base store.  If this proves a challenge please speak to your line manager to see if it’s possible to swap your shift, amend your hours or alternatively temporarily support another Co-op store or location.

If none of the above is workable then it may be possible for us to allow unpaid time off for a short period of time, however this decision must be made in conjunction with the line manager and will be reviewed on a case by case basis. 

I am choosing to self-isolate because I have a vulnerable family member/friend living at home/my family is on lockdown, what will this be classed as?

The business continues to follow government guidance and as such expect colleagues to continue to come to work unless they are self-isolating for the specific reasons referred to throughout this document. However, we appreciate during this challenging time that some colleagues may still choose not to come to work and in these cases, this absence will be classed as unpaid leave.

Ordinarily, we would not be looking to take any formal action due to these extreme circumstances unless for example there is a breach of self-isolation rules.

I am a Co-op colleague who is not a key-worker and due to the Coronavirus, my day to day workload is reducing, what should I do?

The business is looking to temporarily re-deploy colleagues wherever possible to other parts of the business, who are in need of support, for example supporting other business areas such as retail stores via lend a hand etc. Colleagues should first speak to their line manager in any event to agree a practical approach to support the business where needed during this unprecedented time.    

A colleague is refusing to social distance in the workplace, what should we do?

In line with government rules and recent introduction of new laws, colleagues must abide by social distancing measures both inside and outside of the workplace. Colleagues who refuse to social distance and therefore place themselves and others at risk may be subject to disciplinary action.   

A colleague is not complying with the hygiene measures outlined by the Government and the Co-op, for example washing hands, cleaning equipment/headsets etc

In line with government advice, colleagues must maintain personal hygiene and cleaning standards to reduce the potential spread of the virus. Colleagues who refuse to maintain the above measures place themselves and others at risk and may be subject to disciplinary action.