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Advice for Members in Scotland

Last Updated: 22 June 2020

The Scottish Government published the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Framework for Decision Making: Scotland's Route Map through and out of the crisis on 21 May 2020. It indicates the order in which lockdown restrictions will be carefully lifted and sets out the criteria to be met for progressing through 4 phases. 
On 18 June, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Scotland is now moving from Phase 1 (virus not yet contained but cases are falling) to Phase 2 (virus controlled) of the four-step plan. All decisions on phasing will be kept under review.
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.
  • Face coverings are now mandatory on public transport.
Changes on Protections from Phase 1
Face coverings have been advisory in enclosed spaces and public transport since Phase 1, but from Monday 22 June, became mandatory on public transport. It applies to all passengers and staff in public areas, although there will be exemptions for those who are not able to wear a face covering for specific medical reasons. Children under five will also be exempt. The Scottish Government is also considering whether it will make face coverings mandatory in shops – with people already advised to cover up in enclosed spaces such as supermarkets. 
Physical distancing guidance still stands at 2m but this is under review.  
Phase 2: A Staged Approach
The current status of the epidemic in Scotland means that the changes in Phase 2 will be introduced in stages, rather than all at once. All phase changes apply to all parts of Scotland and some of the noticeable changes for members in Scotland are as follows:
  • From 18 June people in the shielding group can meet other people outside and take part in outdoor leisure activities such as golf.  
  • From 19 June people living alone or with only children can meet one other household indoors.  
  • From 19 June, people can meet two other households outside in groups of no more than eight.  
  • From Monday 22 June, facemasks will be compulsory on all public transport including taxis.  
  • Also from Monday, dentists will be able to open, professional sport can resume behind closed doors and places of worship can reopen for individual prayer.  
  • From 29 June, most shops and many other indoor businesses can reopen, but not shopping centres, pubs or restaurants.  
  • Remote working remains the default position for those who can. Where home working is not possible businesses and organisations are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns.  
Details of all changes in Phase 2 and subsequent changes can be found here.

Reopening of Non-Essential Retailers 
As noted above, from 29 June, retail premises of all sizes can re-open, but only if they have outdoor entrances and exits. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement on 18 June stating that “for the time being, indoor shopping centres will remain closed, except for access to essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacists”.  
Shopping centres/malls will remain closed until Phase 3 but are encouraged to make preparations for the safe re-opening of stores. Outdoor markets can re-open once guidance is implemented.
Advice for Usdaw Members
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 business re-opening under Phase 2, your employer should be making preparations to keep you safe. Before any workplace reopens, your employer needs to carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment and put in place proper social distancing and hygiene standards. As stores and workplaces reopen or make plans 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.
The trade unions have been pushing for a provision which would allow workers to return to work on less than their normal hours while receiving their furlough payment for any normal hours not worked as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.  Such a flexible provision will be available from 1 July.  Under the flexible provision, there is no definition of 'part-time' work and employers will be able to access the furlough scheme for any number of normal hours not worked as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
From August onwards (until the scheme ends 31 October) employers will be expected to gradually contribute more to the scheme, but this does not affect employees and the furloughed worker should still receive at least 80% of their normal wages while on furlough. 
We continue to call on all employers to make up the difference between the 80% guaranteed by the Government and normal earnings.

We are aware that some employers have been asking furloughed employees to carry on working. This is in direct contravention of the rules and your employer should not be doing so. Any attempt to do so should be reported to the Union.

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