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Advice for Members

Last Updated: 13 October 2020

Please visit our pages on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for further information about the guidance that applies there.

Members in England

In order to help control the virus and protect yourself and others, when you leave home you must:
  • Keep washing your hands regularly
  • Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces
  • Stay at least a metre away from people not in your household
  • If you are feeling unwell, get a test. If the result is positive, do not leave home for at least ten days

Every area in England is now classified as being on medium, high or very high alert – The measures people are expected to take in order to prevent the spread of the virus will depend on the level of alert, and are described as ‘tiers’; tier-one, tier-two and tier-three.
Shops, schools and universities will remain open no matter which tier you live in, all should be adhering to strict covid-safe measures. 
If you are not sure which ‘tier’ of measures you should follow for your area, please check your local authority website.
For more information on the ‘tier’ system in England, and various measures in place, please visit the Government website. You can find out which restrictions are in place in your area here.

The following advice is relevant to all areas in England – no matter the alert level in place.

Face coverings

Anyone travelling by bus, train, ferry or plane in England must wear a face covering, if they are not exempted.

Since 24 July, it has been compulsory to wear face coverings in shops, including supermarkets, shopping centres, banks, building societies and post offices. It extends to railway and bus stations as well as airports.

From 8 August face coverings have become mandatory in a greater number of public settings, such as museums, galleries, cinemas and public libraries.

Some people do not have to wear face coverings:
  • Children under 11
  • Those unable to put on or wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability
  • People for whom wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
  • Anyone assisting someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
For more information on face coverings, see our information page here.


The guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable is that shielding has been paused and previous shielding advice no longer needs to be followed. You can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible. You can go outside as much as you like, but try and keep your overall social interactions low. You can visit businesses, such as shops and pubs, while keeping 2m away from others wherever possible or 1m plus other precautions.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and live in a local lockdown area, you may receive a letter advising you to start shielding again. You should tell your employer straight away if this applies to you, and refer to your local authority’s website for the latest public health information for your area.

You can read the latest government guidance for extremely vulnerable people here.

Social Distancing

We expect employers to carry on implementing social distancing measures, and to support our members when they are enforcing them with customers.

We will continue to raise this with employers and are also putting out a clear message to the public, that they should keep following social distancing when shopping. All employers should have carried out a full risk assessment and taken measures to keep staff safe. These measures should be reviewed to make sure that they are being properly implemented,

As always, if you are an Usdaw member and have any concerns about your safety at work, please contact your workplace rep or local official.


You must not leave your home if:
If any of the above apply to you, do not go to work and inform your employer straight away.

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus, you'll usually need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

You'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days if:
  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you've been told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with someone who has coronavirus

If you need to self-isolate, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to be off work. You do not need to get a note from a GP.

You should refer to your own employer’s policies and procedures for more information on what to do, and contact to your Union Rep or local official if you need advice.

Job Retention Scheme

The Job Retention Scheme is ending on 31 October 2020. Furlough pay will cease after this date. Up to 31 October, you may still be ‘furloughed’ under the Job Retention Scheme if you are unable to work your normal hours. If you are on furlough status, your pay for any unworked hours 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.

The scheme was closed to new entrants from 30 June.

For people who are covered, the scheme will continue to run until the end of October, with changes to make it more flexible. This means that companies can 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.

The scheme is paying out 80% of workers’ wages, but employers are now expected to pay a minimum of 20% of a workers’ wages with the Government covering 60%.

You must not do any work for your employer for any hours or periods where you are furloughed, Speak to your Union rep or official if you need any further advice on this.

Please note: 
If you require any support regarding your return to work following a period of furlough, please contact Usdaw as soon as possible.
Job Support Scheme
From 1 November 2020, the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) will come to an end, and will be replace with the Job Support Scheme. It will run for six months, until April 2021.
The Job Support Scheme will subsidise the pay of employees who are working fewer than normal hours due to lower demand, provided they are working at least one third of their normal hours.

For the hours an employee cannot work due to reduced business demand, the Government and the employer will each cover one third of the lost pay.
Employers must agree the new short-time working arrangements with their staff, make any changes to the employment contract by agreement, and notify the employee in writing.

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