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Coronavirus advice

Last reviewed on 09 November 2020

Updated on Monday 9 November

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.

Key messages

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.

NHS test and trace

If you have coronavirus symptoms, you will be tested and your close contacts traced.

If you are contacted, follow the advice you are given and continue to report any coronavirus-related absence to your line manager.

You can find more information about test and trace on the government website.

If you live in Scotland

Find information about test and protect on the Scottish government website.

Local lockdowns

Some areas have local restrictions or lockdowns. If you are in one of these areas and it will impact getting to work, speak to your line manager.

Find the latest information on those areas on the government website.

Face masks

Some colleagues must now wear masks when at work.

If you work in a Food store

You must wear a face mask at all times when working except when you are:

  • working alone behind a screen that separates you from the customer or other colleagues
  • carrying out a task alone in a back-up area where you can keep to social distancing guidelines
  • speaking to or aiding someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate

If you cannot wear a face mask

Speak to your line manager if you cannot wear a mask due to:

  • a physical or mental illness
  • a physical impairment or disability
  • wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress, including anxiety

You do not need to provide any written evidence of the reason for why you cannot wear a face mask.

There is a a badge you can wear that shows customers and colleagues you are exempt from wearing a mask. Your line manager can order this on the uniform portal.

You can wear a face visor or face shield instead. Line managers can call ER Services for more advice.

If you work in a Funeralcare home or care centre

You must wear a face mask at all times when working except when you are working alone in a room with no other colleagues or clients.

If you cannot wear a face mask

Speak to your line manager if you cannot wear a mask due to:

  • a physical or mental illness
  • a physical impairment or disability
  • wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress, including anxiety

You do not need to provide any written evidence of the reason for why you cannot wear a face mask.

If you work in any other business area

You can wear your own mask or face covering to work if you want but you are not legally required to do so.

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 may need to self-isolate if you have children who are self-isolating due to being in contact with another child who has tested positive.

If you are self-isolating

Tell your line manager. 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.

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 a coronavirus test on the NHS website.

When you get the test result

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

Looking after your health while staying at home

You can find advice on looking after your wellbeing on the government website.

There are some resources on our colleagues website:
Employee assistance programme (Lifeworks)

Mental health support

Reduce the spread of infection

You must work from home if you can. If you need to leave the house, follow social distancing guidelines.

Cleaning and hygiene

Help protect yourself against coronavirus and reduce the spread by:

  • washing your hands regularly
  • avoiding touching your face
  • covering your cough or sneeze
  • cleaning surfaces and equipment regularly
  • wearing a face mask

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

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

If you work in England
You must now work from home until 2 December.

If you are unable to work from home, you will be furloughed and will receive 'enhanced paid absence' between 5 November and 2 December.

If you work in any other country
You may be back at work. You must follow social distancing guidelines.

If you live with or care for someone who is 'clinically extremely vulnerable'

Follow social distancing guidelines.

If you choose to self-isolate and are off work 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.

Clinically vulnerable groups

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

If you are in this group, you should work from home if you can. If you are unable to work from home, you must follow social distancing guidelines.

If you are concerned about going to work outside your home, speak to your line manager. Managers can contact ER services for advice.

If you live with or care for someone who is 'clinically vulnerable'

Follow social distancing guidelines.

If you choose to self-isolate and are off work 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.

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.

If you use public transport, follow social distancing guidelines.

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
If you travel abroad, you may need to quarantine for 14 days when you return to the UK.

If you quarantine for an extra 14 days, you should take it as annual leave, unpaid leave or work from home.

Find more information about foreign travel on the government website.

Schools and childcare

Find the latest information about schools and childcare on the government website.

If there is a local lockdown

If restrictions put in place locally mean a school is closed, you can get one week of enhanced coronavirus emergency leave while you make alternative arrangements for childcare.

Speak to your line manager to arrange this.

If you do not want to send your child to school

If your child's school is open and you 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.

Annual leave

You should continue to book annual leave 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, speak to your line manager.

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.