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Coronavirus advice

Last reviewed on 21 May 2020

Updated on Thursday 21 May

We will continually update this page, but check the government and NHS websites for the latest advice.

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

Welfare calls to colleagues who are currently self-isolating for up to 12 weeks

The Co-op HR team are making welfare calls to colleagues who are over 70, pregnant or have underlying health conditions, who are self-isolating for 12 weeks.

The call is to:

  • see how you are getting on
  • check if you have all the support you need
  • validate Co-op's central data, which may include a health question

This call is in addition to the regular contact you will have with your line manager.

Latest NHS advice

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)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you have noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal 

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

Find more information about the symptoms, self-isolation and what to do on the NHS website.

Latest government advice

Guidance for England
Guidance for Scotland
Guidance for Wales
Guidance for Northern Ireland
Guidance for Isle of Man

Absence related to coronavirus

You must self-isolate if:

  • you have coronavirus symptoms, or have tested positive for coronavirus
  • a member of your household has coronavirus symptoms, or has tested positive for coronavirus
  • you are in the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' group

If you are in the 'clinically vulnerable' group you can self-isolate if you feel at risk.

If you are self-isolating

Tell your line manager straight away. Your manager will notify ER services.

Find more information about what to do when you are self-isolating on the NHS website.

If you self-isolate for more than 7 days you will need to get an online self-isolation note from the NHS. Give this to your line manager.

If you are considered 'clinically vulnerable' and are self-isolating for 12 weeks, you do not need to get an isolation note from the NHS.

Paid leave

If you are self-isolating for any of the reasons above, you will get 'paid leave'. You will be paid from the first day you self-isolate. There is no 3-day waiting period and absence triggers will not apply.

If you are self-isolating for other reasons, speak to your line manager about your circumstances.

Get tested for coronavirus

You can get tested for coronavirus if you are a key worker and are self-isolating due to coronavirus symptoms. Members of your household can be tested too if they have symptoms.

The tests can be done at home or a regional testing centre.

Get a test

Let your manger know you are self-isolating. They can submit a self-isolation online form.

Once ER services get the form, you will get a text message with instructions of how to book a test through the 'employer referral portal'.

If your contact details are wrong in MyHR, you will not get a text. You will need to book a ‘self-referral’ test on the government website.

You can also contact the ‘Coronavirus Testing Call Centre’ on 0300 303 2713. The call centre is open daily from 8am to 8pm.

When you get the test result

Let your manager know straight away. Your manager will notify ER services and discuss how they can support you.

Welfare calls to colleagues who are self-isolating

Members of the HR team are making welfare calls to colleagues recorded as self-isolating to see:

  • how you are doing
  • make sure you are getting the support you need
  • discuss a return to work date

They will complete a data protection check when speaking to you. We will ask you to confirm your employee number.

If you have been selected for furlough

You should of received an email or letter to let you know. You must read and accept the terms of furlough.

You must not do any work while you are on furlough except to complete online training.

Find more information about furlough on the government website.

Reduce the spread of infection

You should only leave your home to:

  • shop for basic necessities
  • exercise
  • address any important medical needs (including blood donation)
  • provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travel for work purposes (only where you cannot work from home)

If you need to leave the house for any of these reasons, you should stay at least 2 metres away from other people.

If any colleagues are refusing to follow social distancing, or cleaning and hygiene rules, speak to your line manager.

Social distancing

Social distancing are rules the government introduced to reduce contact between people. You should:

  • avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms
  • avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
  • work from home, where possible
  • avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces
  • avoid gatherings with friends and family
  • use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

Find out more about social distancing on the government website.

Speak with your line manager if you are concerned about colleagues or customers who are not following this guidance.

Cleaning and hygiene

Help protect yourself against coronavirus and reduce the spread by doing these 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.

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 and equipment regularly
Clean and disinfect any frequently touched objects and surfaces such as your work area, door handles or headsets.

Wear a face mask
Find information on the government website about making a face mask.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Food stores have PPE to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes:

  • protective screens
  • hand sanitiser
  • face masks
  • gloves

Find more information about PPE on the 'coronavirus: keeping safe' page on 'How Do I?'.

Transport and travel

Find the latest travel updates on the Traveline website or check local transport providers.

If you are travelling for work in the UK
Try to cycle, walk or drive to work. Only share car journeys with people from your household.

Follow social distancing rules if you use public transport.

Find more information about working from home.

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.

People with an increased risk

Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill. But some people are at a higher risk and need to take extra steps to avoid becoming unwell.

Clinically extremely vulnerable groups

People most at risk from coronavirus are considered "clinically extremely vulnerable" and should be "shielded". This includes people who:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having certain types of cancer treatment
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
  • have a condition or are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections

Find out more about the people most at risk on the NHS website.

People considered "clinically extremely vulnerable" are being contacted by the NHS. Speak to your GP if you have not been contacted and think you should have been.

If you fall into this group, you must self-isolate for at least 12 weeks.

You must contact your line manager who will need to complete an online self-isolation form for you. This will make sure your pay is not affected.

Get more advice on shielding on the government website.

If you are living with someone who is "clinically extremely vulnerable"

Follow the government guidance on "shielding".

If you choose to self-isolate because you are living with someone who is "clinically extremely vulnerable", this will be classed as unpaid leave.

Speak to your manager to discuss your individual circumstances. Managers can contact ER services for advice.

If you care for, but don’t live with someone who is "clinically extremely vulnerable", follow government guidance on social distancing.

Clinically vulnerable groups

You may be at an increased risk from coronavirus and considered "clinically vulnerable" if you:

If you are a colleague over 70 or pregnant, you don't have to self-isolate if you don't want to. You can choose to self-isolate if you feel at risk.

Speak to your line manager who will need to complete an online self-isolation form. This will ensure your pay is not affected.

If you fall into this group, you must follow the guidance on social distancing to help reduce the spread of infection.

Find out more about social distancing on the government website.

If you are living with someone who is "clinically vulnerable"

Follow government guidance on social distancing.

If you choose to self-isolate because you are living with someone who is "clinically vulnerable", this will be classed as unpaid leave.

Speak to your manager to discuss your individual circumstances. Managers can contact ER services for advice.

If you care for, but don’t live with someone who is "clinically vulnerable", follow government guidance on social distancing.

Key workers

The following colleagues have been classed as key workers:

  • Food store colleagues
  • Funeralcare colleagues who work in funeralcare homes
  • Insurance colleagues
  • depot colleagues
  • field teams in Food
  • Co-op business services colleagues

If you are not sure if you are a key worker, speak to your line manager.

Find the full list of key workers on the government website.

Proof of being a key worker

You can get a letter from your line manager of proof you work for Co-op.

You can also get a 'movement' letter from your manager which confirms you can travel to and from work. It may be beneficial to carry a payslip or ID badge to show if you get stopped.

School closures

The government have advised that any child who can stay at home, must do so, to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. However, if you're classed as a key worker then you should be able to send your child to school as normal.

If your child’s school is closed
Contact your local authority. They will try to get your child into another school in your area. If you’re still unable to secure a place for your child, you should inform your line manager. Line managers can contact ER Services for help and advice.

If you do not want to send your child to school
If you are a key worker and choose not to send your child to school, you will not be paid for any absence. You will need to take holidays, swap your shifts or take unpaid leave.

If you need to change your working pattern
Speak to your line manager to discuss your options for flexible working hours.

Line managers can contact ER Services for help and advice.

Find more information about school closures on the government website.

Non-key workers

If you have childcare or carer responsibilities and cannot work, speak to your line manager.

You should take any remaining holiday first to cover your time off.

Your line manager can also support you with one-week’s enhanced coronavirus emergency leave while you make alternative arrangements. In some circumstances this may be extended to two weeks depending on your situation.

Working from home

If you can work from home, you must do so. If you need flexible hours, speak to your line manager.

Try some of these work tools, if you have access:

  • conference calls 
  • video conferencing 
  • Yammer  
  • Teams

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.

Claim tax relief for working at home

If you regularly work from home, you can claim a 'work at home tax relief' of £6 per week. This is for the tax year that ends on 5 April 2021.

This is worth £1.20 a week for basic rate tax payers and £2.40 a week for higher rate tax payers.

You have to claim the money after the end of the tax year by completing a form on the government website.

If you already complete a self-assessment tax form you can use that to claim back this tax.

You can claim tax relief on more than £6 but you will have to show evidence that your costs have increased.

You will not be able to claim for any household expenses while working at home.

Annual leave

You should continue to book annual leave so you get a break from work.

Take any holidays already booked for this holiday year. This holiday year is from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

If you want to change or cancel holidays, speak to your line manager.

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

You can also be paid for days if you worked when you should of been on holiday.

If you are self-isolating but due to be on holiday
This will be processed as 'annual leave'. The days will be taken from your holiday entitlement.