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Advice for Members

Last Updated: 17 August 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 and do not leave home for at least ten days

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

As some aspects of lockdown are eased, it is important to note that the importance of social distancing has not changed. 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

You may currently be ‘furloughed’ under the Job Retention Scheme if your workplace is closed or you are unable to work. If you are 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 scheme was closed to new entrants from 30 June, so if you hadn’t been furloughed for a period of least three weeks before that date, your employer won’t be able to claim for your wages under the scheme going forward.

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.

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

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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