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Advice for Members in Scotland

Last Updated:  14 January 2021

From Tuesday 5 January, mainland Scotland moved from Level 4 to a temporary Lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes. Some islands remain at Level 3.

When You Can Leave Home
Amongst the limited reasonable excuses to leave or remain outside your home are provisions for caring, outdoor exercise and to go to work, but only if that work cannot be done from home. The guidance states that if you were working from home during the first lockdown in March 2020 you should be working from home now.

Businesses Required To Close
Only essential retail will be able to remain open providing they follow and have implemented Scottish Government guidance to ensure the safety of customers and staff.

Those that can remain open are:
  • food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops
  • off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol(including breweries)
  • pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
  • newsagents
  • building merchants and suppliers of products and tools used in building work and repairs
  • petrol stations
  • car repair and MOT services
  • bicycle shops
  • taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs, cash points and undertakings which by way of business operate a currency exchange office, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers
  • post offices
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody services, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health
  • veterinary surgeons and pet shops
  • agricultural supplies shops and agricultural markets
  • storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this sub-paragraph
  • car parks
  • public toilets
  • livestock markets or auctions
  • outdoor markets, and outdoor car lots
From 16 January, click and collect services will only be permitted for retailers selling essential items or certain non-essential items.

The non-essential retailers which can continue to operate click and collect services are:
  • clothing and footwear stores
  • homeware stores
  • garden centre/plant nurseries
  • baby equipment shops
  • electrical shops (including repairs)
  • key cutting and shoe repairs
  • bookstores

Click and collect appointments should be staggered to avoid queues and customers should not access inside premises for collections.


From 26 December to 31 January, regulated day care of children services, including nurseries and school age childcare, can only open to children of key workers and vulnerable children. Childminders caring for fewer than 12 children may operate as normal in accordance with Level 4 guidance, (or Level 3 in Island authorities and other designated island communities in Argyll and Bute and Highland).

It is up to local authorities to define a key worker. Usdaw’s view is that essential retail and distribution workers should be considered key workers, but you should check the arrangements for your local authority and school.

More information on childcare can be found on the Parent Club website.

If you are not a key worker or are unable to get a school place, but still need to work, you should speak to your manager about any support you need. We would expect employers to be as flexible as possible to support their staff. This could include swapping your shifts, reducing your hours or taking emergency leave if necessary.

Workers can be furloughed to deal with childcare issues relating to school closures. However, it is up to your employer whether they take up this option or not.

You can use informal childcare under stay at home restrictions if it's essential. This means that you can leave your child with a friend, family member or babysitter if:

  • you're a key worker and require informal childcare to go to work
  • you work in an industry that is permitted to operate at level 4, and you require informal childcare to go to work
  • you're working from home, and you need informal childcare so you can to continue to work and no alternative can be found.

In level 4 and under stay at home restrictions, your child should move between households, rather than your friend, family member, babysitter, or nanny coming to your house to look after your child.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Workers

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable and live or work in an area in lockdown, you should not go to work. The letter you will receive from the Chief Medical Officer acts as a fit note for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place. This letter is called a shielding notification and can be shown to your employer without the need for a GP fit note.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should notify your manager and not go to work. Speak to your union rep or local official if you need help.


The Job Retention Scheme has been extended to April 2021. This means furlough pay will be available for those who need it, for instance for those whose stores are closed or those who are shielding, if their employer chooses to claim through the scheme.

If you are unable to work due to the latest restrictions you may still be ‘furloughed’ under the Job Retention Scheme for some or all of your normal hours. If you are on furlough status, your pay for any unworked hours may be reduced to 80% of your average earnings.

To be eligible for the scheme, you must have been employed and paid through PAYE before 30 October 2020. You do not need to have been furloughed before.

The scheme will continue to run until April. Companies can furlough workers on a part-time basis and access the scheme to cover any unworked hours. The scheme will carry on paying 80% of workers’ wages, with the Government paying the full 80% of wages, and employers paying pension and national insurance contributions. Employers can choose to top-up this payment.

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.


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