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Advice for Members in Scotland

Last Updated: 2 June 2020

Following the Scottish Government’s publication of a route map through and out of the Covid-19 crisis which indicated the order in which restrictions will gradually change, changes to Scotland’s lockdown restrictions were confirmed on 28 May 2020. Scotland is now in Phase 1 of the lockdown. There are no exact timescales and the Scottish Government will continue to hold reviews every three weeks as a minimum to ensure they are on track and to assess whether elements within each phase can be accelerated or need to be decelerated.

In order to reduce the spread of the infection, the following three measures which every person in Scotland must comply with are in place:
  • requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • closing certain business and venues
  • stopping most gatherings of more than 2 households in public
These measures which are in force for six months in the first instance, unless revoked, are reviewed at least once every 21 days.

Notice will be given as to when changes are happening, giving time to prepare.

The following protections are advised:
  • Physical distancing requirements in place.
  • Frequent handwashing and hygiene measures for all.
  • Cough etiquette is maintained.
  • Face coverings in enclosed public spaces, including public transport.
It is advised that all business premises, sites and attractions not required by law to close should remain closed unless:
  • essential to the health and welfare of the country during this crisis or
  • supporting (or being repurposed to support) essential services; or
  • wider public health, health and safety or other considerations apply and require a facility or service to continue to operate or a specific period of time for a safe shutdown process to be completed; or
  • able to reopen in Phase 1 of the route map for moving out of lockdown; and
  • apart from in exceptional circumstances critical to lives and safety, capable of working in a way which is fully consistent with established physical distancing advice
  • people can travel to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home.
The changes that are being implemented in Phase 1 include the following:
  • From 29 May 2020, garden centres and plant nurseries can reopen (with physical distancing). Associated cafés should not reopen at this stage except for takeaway.
  • From 29 May, most outdoor workplaces can resume with physical distancing measures in place once guidance is agreed.
  • From 29 May, food outlets, restaurants and cafés are able to provide delivery, takeaway and drive-through food options in line with guidance and and complying and safe distancing measures.
  • Child minding services and fully outdoor nursery provision will be available from 3 June, although capacity will be limited. Both measures will be subject to increased hygiene measures, small group working and physical distancing of adults.
  • Remote working remains the default position for those who can.
  • For those workplaces that are reopening, employers should encourage staggered start times and flexible working.
  • Workplaces resuming in later phases can undertake preparatory work on physical distancing and hygiene measures.
Details of all changes in Phase 1 and subsequent changes can be found on https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/

Most Usdaw members are already at work and have been working throughout this outbreak, keeping the food and pharmaceutical supply chain moving, in very difficult circumstances.

If you work in non-food retail, or any other type of workplace that is currently closed, your employer should be making preparations to keep you safe. Before any workplace reopens, the employer should do a full risk assessment and put in place proper social distancing and hygiene standards. When they do attempt to reopen, we will be here to support members with any health, transport, or childcare concerns you may have. Please contact your workplace rep or local official if you need advice.

You may currently be 'furloughed' under the Job Retention Scheme if your workplace is closed or you are unable to work. If you are put on furlough status, your pay may be reduced to 80% of your average earnings. Your employer can only claim if you were on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020, and they had notified HMRC of your employment by that date.

Following pressure from Trade Unions, the Government has extended the Job Retention Scheme from its previous deadline of June. It will now be available in its current form until the end of July. It will then continue to run from August until the end of October, with changes to make it more flexible. This will mean that companies will be able to bring workers back on a part-time basis and access the scheme to cover any unworked hours. The scheme will carry on paying 80% of workers' wages, but the Government has said that they will be requiring employers to make a contribution to that 80% payment. We are waiting for details of when and how this will happen.

We continue to call on all employers to make up the difference between the 80% guaranteed by the Government and normal earnings.

It is your employer's decision whether to access the scheme or not, but they should seek your agreement if your pay will be reduced as a result. You should not agree to this without full details of what it means for you. Speak to your Union rep or official for further advice on this.

We are aware that some employers have been attempting to stop paying their staff until the Government scheme pays out. Your employer still has a contractual duty to pay you for your contractual hours and any attempt not to do so should be reported to the Union.

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