We're continuing to review the situation in relation to the coronavirus pandemic and how this develops over the coming days and weeks. This page is your source of up-to-date information for the coronavirus.
To contact the HR Advice Line please call 01926 516 469 (lines open from 9am - 5pm)
(If your query is non-corona virus related then please email firstname.lastname@example.org)
For Coronavirus FAQs please click here
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General Guidance and Contact Details
The Society is continually reviewing the situation in relation to the Coronavirus and how this develops over the coming days and weeks. However, with the situation ever evolving it is important that you also keep yourself up to date with any developments. Below are some useful links which can provide you the most up to date information regarding the Coronavirus.
- NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- Gov.uk - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public
- World Health Organisation - https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
If you are entering into self-isolation or have a confirmed diagnosis of Coronavirus please inform your line manager and contact the HR Advice Line - 01926 516 469 to seek advice on any queries or questions regarding how this impacts their employment or how any time away from the society will be treated.
Our Chief Operating Officers are looking at preventative measures within their respective trading groups, one such measure will be ensuring that hand sanitizers are available for all colleagues to use. Colleagues can also take their own preventative measures to avoid the spread of the infection through basic hygiene practices for example –
- Wash your hands with soap and water often
- Using hand sanitizers regularly where available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin straight away
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
The Society will continue to review the situation and how this evolves, and such policies will be under constant review. See below for the latest FAQs.
Media/Press enquiries: As a Colleague, should you be approached by any member of the press/media please direct them to Citypress - 0121 314 4197 - email@example.com
Returning to Work
Vulnerable and Shielded Colleagues return to work
The safety of our Colleagues is a key priority and as more Colleagues look to return to work following the Government's Shielding advice and Furlough we want to ensure they feel safe and comfortable in returning to the workplace.
Therefore we will be taking steps to ensure that all colleagues are informed of the measures and practices that have been put in place to ensure their safety.
All returning Colleagues
Upon your first day back your site manager will talk to you about the latest measures and practices that have been put in place to control the COVID-19 pandemic. These will include changes to both the way you work and your working environment. It is important that you understand and implement the changes to keep you and your fellow colleagues safe.
Vulnerable and Shielded Colleagues
As a colleague that was identified as vulnerable or has been shielding, before you return to work an assessment will be required on your workplace. Your site manager will complete this assessment and will talk to you about any extra measures that need to put in place so that you can both agree with them. It is important that any agreed measures are maintained once you are on site.
Click here to download the process policy to follow.
Click here to download the Return to Work Assessment.
Job Retention Scheme
Job Retention Scheme - Furlough Leave
The Government recently announced a range of measures to support businesses and individuals affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. One of those measures is the introduction of the Job Retention Scheme. The scheme is open to all employers regardless of their size. It is intended to avoid the need for redundancies as a result of the financial impact Coronavirus is having on our economy.
As you know from our previous updates, like many businesses, the Society is significantly impacted by Coronavirus. We are seeing substantial downturns in our travel and childcare businesses, which are likely to continue for some time. Although these are offset by increased demand in areas such as food, pharmacy and funeral care, we need to act to protect the long-term future of our business. Our colleagues being as flexible as possible by supporting in other areas has been a fantastic help. However, we also need to use the Job Retention Scheme to protect jobs in the long-term.
The scheme enables employers to place colleagues on “furlough leave”, where there is no work for them to do. Whilst on furlough leave, the Government will meet up to 80% of the colleague’s wages per month (up to £2,500 each month). The great thing about the scheme is that once things improve, furlough leave will end, and the affected colleagues will return to their normal role.
Not all our colleagues will be affected by this scheme and we will be contacting you if you are. We are sure you will have lots of questions about how it may work and have prepared an FAQ to help answer some of those, which can be found here.
The answers in the FAQ are based on what we know so far. This is an entirely new scheme and we are waiting for the Government to publish full details. We will share that information and update the FAQ as soon as we know more
NHS Test and Trace
This summary provides you with a clear description of what Test & Trace is and how it works.
What is the test and trace service?
From 28 May, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to talk through their recent interactions. This could include places that they’ve visited or people they’ve been in direct contact within the few days just before and after they first got symptoms.
These people identified will then be contacted by the service and should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms. The aim is to stop the virus being passed on from person to person and prevent a bigger outbreak.
How does it work?
The NHS Test and Trace service works by alerting people who may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus and asking them to self-isolate for 14 days to reduce the risk of them passing it on to anyone else. They can also be tested quickly if they develop symptoms. If the test is positive, then they, in turn, will be contacted to ask about any interactions they may have had before they self-isolated.
This will help stop the spread of the virus and track new infections.
What counts as a ‘close contact’?
It is very important to understand the definition of ‘close contact’. Close contact includes:
- having face to face contact (at around 1 metre or less)
- spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone
- travelling with someone in a car or small vehicle.
You will also be asked about where you work or places you may have visited where you came into contact with other people, such as GP surgeries or schools.
How will you be contacted?
The service will contact you by text message or email but will follow up by phone if they don’t get a response. You will then be directed to the NHS test and trace website. Here, you'll find more information on the system.
How will you know if a phone call from test and trace is legitimate?
Not knowing how to discern a dishonest contact tracing message is a common concern. The NHS test and trace team will only ever call you from 0300 013 5000 and send you text messages from ‘NHS’. They will never ask you to dial a premium rate number (for example, those starting with 09 or 087).
Who do you notify if you are contacted by Test & Trace?
Please refer to the flowchart below.
What action do Site or Duty Manager’s take if visited or called by a Test & Trace Assessor?
Clearly describe the protection measures that are in place in your site; the social distancing protocol and the personal protection equipment. Where close contact cannot be avoided in the workplace, wearing personal protection equipment helps to mitigate the risk significantly and may negate the self-isolation requirement.
Do not agree to take any action until you have spoken to your District/Area Manager. Always seek their advice and report any Test & Trace contact. Write down the conversation and the questions that you were asked so that a clear record is retained. Take a record of the name and contact details of the person calling or contacting the store in case follow up or clarity is required.
Personal Mobile Devices Policy
To support colleagues during the Test & Trace implementation, we have temporarily amended the Society Personal Mobile Devices Policy. For frontline colleagues working in our trading branches, you will now be able to keep your mobile phone on your person in case you receive a Test & Trace text or call. Please note that this is the sole purpose for its use whilst you are working. For Childcare colleagues, regulatory reasons prevent us from extending this arrangement, but phones can be checked at two-hour intervals.
This temporary amendment will only remain in place for the length of the Test & Trace process.
Changes to Policies & Procedures:
Kronos - Coronavirus Guidance
The Workforce Management Team are currently receiving a high volume of queries, please raise a ServiceNow Incident in the first instance, so we can deal with your query accordingly.
When submitting the timecards for week ending 4TH April 2020, any colleagues that have been furloughed, please submit the colleagues timecards as normal with hours worked
If managers are out of the business and unable to submit the timecards, please use the Delegation action for another manager to process for you, click here for the user guide. Please ensure you speak to the manager you are delegating too, to make them aware.
A communication about Furloughed colleagues, going forward, will be sent out later today.
During this challenging time, please can you ensure that colleagues' exceptions are managed accurately and promptly to ensure that colleagues are paid correctly.
For colleagues that are off sick due to self-isolation/Covid-19, you must add a comment within the comments field to the colleague’s timecard. Please refer to the user guide or video below for more information.
Where eligible, the government have indicated to pay SSP from day one, however we are awaiting confirmation as legal changes have not been implemented yet as the Covid-19 emergency bill is going through the system. An update will follow as soon as it is available.
Logging Self-Isolation for Pregnant colleagues:
If you have a colleague that is self-isolating due to Pregnancy, please use the pay code of ‘Authorised Absence Paid’ instead of ‘Sick’ and add the comment (Covid-19 -Pregnant-Maternity) to the timecard as normal.
Any pregnant colleagues that were recorded as ‘Sick’ last week, will be amended manually by the Workforce Management Team/Payroll. No Historical Corrections will need to be put through to correct.
Please be aware that the Workforce Management team are unable to give out colleague sickness information.
Refer to Colleague Handbook for Sick entitlement, within the Policies and Procedures page.
Annual Leave Carryover
For colleagues that need to carry over annual leave into next year's entitlement, please follow the guide by clicking here.
Annual Leave carryover MUST be approved by Area/District Manager and will then be approved by the Head of HR Specialist Services, before it reaches the WFM team to process.
Logging Hours Through a Paycode
There have been several queries come through for sickness hours being removed from the amount field within the timecard when adding a comment. Please ensure that there is a schedule time within the schedule field of the timecard to ensure the hours populate- when you select Full Schedule day
If the schedule field is blank, within the timecard, please enter in the number of hours the colleague was off for, in the amount field, click save and add a comment if required.
Please ensure hours are populated in the amount field before submitting/signing off timecards, please follow the user guide by clicking here.
Please continue to look at Colleagues Connect for updates.
Temporary Changes to Society Policies and Procedures Policy
Click here to view the 'Temporary Changes to Society Policies and Procedures Policy'
This policy sets out the temporary changes to Society policy and procedures for colleagues during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Key policies covered:
Managing Attendance Policy
Annual Leave Policy
Flexible Working Policy
Colleague & Customer Protection – Knowing what’s required
It is vitally important that all colleagues understand and adhere to the policies and procedures relating to personal protection and social distancing including, what personal protection equipment should be worn, what cleaning regimes should be in place, what social distancing protocols should be observed in both customer-facing and back-of-house areas and to help protect both colleagues & customers.
Guidance and instruction to help all colleagues understand what procedures and measures have been put in place by each group can be read below.
To help ensure the specific measures for each group are being implemented effectivity and consistently site managers have been asked to carry out an audit of compliance.
Food & Post Office
Facial Coverings FAQs
Please see below a list of questions and answers around the Society decision for all customer-facing colleagues to wear a facial covering. If you have an additional question, please raise it with your Manager who will escalate it to ensure that you receive a prompt response.
Q - Why are retail colleagues being requested to wear face coverings when government guidance states they don’t have to?
A - Throughout COVID-19 your safety and protection has been and will continue to be the highest priority. The decision to ask all customer-facing colleagues to wear facial coverings is a further reflection of this priority. It has the full support of USDAW and is being followed by Co-ops across the UK. A clear message that on our sales floors everyone wears facial protection is an assurance for both colleagues and customers that safety is paramount at Co-op Midcounties.
Q - If I am working behind a Perspex screen or Fortress (PO colleagues) do I still need to wear a face covering?
A- Yes, you do, we want any colleague in a customer-facing situation to wear a facial covering. This provides one clear and consistent message for both our colleagues and customers.
Q - I have a medical condition and do not want to wear the face mask provided; can I wear a visor instead?
A - If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a facial covering please make your Manager aware so that they can look at alternative solutions, for example, the use of a visor. If there is a genuine medical reason as to why a colleague cannot wear any facial covering including a visor then a medical exemption card in a lanyard can be issued, but only where medical evidence is received to suggest this.
Q - I would prefer to wear a visor as I believe this will be more comfortable, would I be able to do this?
A - The Society’s preferred choice of facial covering is a mask, which will be provided for all colleagues. Visors will be provided for colleagues with a medical condition that prevents them wearing a face mask as a priority, but if you have a strong preference to wear a visor and your site has them available then that will be acceptable.
Q - Will the society provide me with a visor to wear if permitted or would I have to source my own?
A - The Society will have stock of visors available for use if required.
Q - Wearing the face masks provided steams up my glasses and means I cannot see properly; would I still be expected to wear a face mask?
A- Yes, you would, it may take a few moments for your lenses to adjust, but they should normalise. If you have a persistent problem, please raise it with your Manager. In addition, please click on the link here to a video that gives three tips on how to avoid your glasses steaming up; The Tuck Method, The Tissue Method and The Soap Method.
Q - If a customer comes into the store without wearing a face mask what does the society expect me to do?
A - Every site will be sent the clear point of sale informing customers of the Government instruction to wear a facial covering in a shop. If a customer is not wearing a facial covering then you should make them aware of the point of sale message, but you must not attempt to enforce compliance or engage in any form of confrontation. You are not to police customer adherence at all.
Q - I have a colleague who refuses to wear a face mask or a visor, how do I manage this?
A - If a colleague refuses to wear a facial covering and has no medical grounds to do so, they will be asked to either take holiday or go home on unpaid leave.
Q - Do I have to wear a face covering in the back areas of my site?
A - No, face coverings are optional in back areas or non-customer facing areas. However, if you are working closely with another colleague or colleagues, within the 2-metre social distancing rule for 15 minutes or more then wearing a facial covering is recommended.
Q - If I have a colleague who provides medical evidence of a condition that means they are exempt from wearing any facial covering, how do I get a lanyard and card for them to wear?
A - Any colleague requesting exemption from wearing any facial covering will need to provide their Manager with clear medical evidence. The Manager will then contact their District/Area Manager who will send them a lanyard and card for the colleague.
Other Helpful Information
Wellbeing Tips for Coronavirus
Wellbeing Wednesday - Coronavirus Toolkit
In these challenging times that we face, we felt it beneficial for our colleagues to have access to tools and tips to guide you through this unusual situation. Whether you are working in a site, self-isolating, working from home, furloughing or managing others - within the following toolkits you will find ideas and resources that have been designed to support and reassure you.
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 1
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 2
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 3
Click here to access your Coronavirus Toolkit - Week 4
Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.
Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.
Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak
Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.
You can get up-to-date information and advice on the virus here:
Follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water (sing ‘happy birthday’ to yourself twice to make sure you do this for 20 seconds). You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straight away, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity.
You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly if you don’t have a tissue sneeze into your sleeve and stay at home if you are feeling unwell.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Try to stay connected
At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family or contact a helpline for emotional support.
Also, don’t forget the support colleagues can get from GroceryAid click here for more information.
It is a good idea to stick to your daily routine. You may also like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:
Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends might be worried too.
Talk to your children
Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need to be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm.
We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible.
Let’s not avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is appropriate for them. We have more advice on talking with your children about world news.
Try to anticipate distress
It is normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.
It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking.
Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone.
Try not to make assumptions
Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The Coronavirus can affect anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sex.
Try to manage how you follow the outbreak in the media
There is extensive news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is causing you huge stress, it’s important to find a balance.
It’s best that you don’t avoid all news and that you keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if it is bothering you.
How should people deal with being in self-isolation or in quarantine?
If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
For people that are in self-isolation or are in quarantine, this may seem like a daunting prospect. It will help to try and see it as a different period of time in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it.
It will mean a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you.
Create a daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You could try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as a new if unusual experience, that might have its benefits.
Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing and mental health during such times.
Follow our top tips to look after yourself:
- If you find that the news is causing you stress, try to limit the amount of coverage that you are reading or listening to. It's best that you don't avoid news completely and that you keep informed of the developments but try to limit this to once a day.
- Be in touch with friends and family regularly to stay connected with them via social media, email or phone, it may change your normal routine but it's important to feel close to them when feeling worried or anxious.
- If you are unable to work, it's important that you create a new routine through exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies to keep busy and active.
- Eating well and keeping hydrated is important for physical and mental health, and good for keeping on top of low mood and blood sugar levels.
- Help the vulnerable. If you can get out, think of those that it's more difficult for. Why not help the elderly or sick with their shopping or weekly errands to ensure they are kept safe.
Your GroceryAid Wellbeing Tips:
How can GroceryAid Help? Click here for more information.
- Self-Help Guides
We have various Self-Help Guides available through our partner Rightsteps from day one of working in the grocery industry. 5 Ways to Wellbeing, Anxiety, Healthy Eating, Low Mood, Physical Activity are just some of the topics available to work through for help.
- Wellbeing Sessions
Ideal for those looking to make lasting changes in their lives you have access to a more structured self-guided support. There are 6-8 sessions lasting approx. 45 minutes each. Sessions include topics such as General Anxiety, Learning to Change, Low Mood, Social Anxiety.
- 24/7 Helpline - 08088 021 122
GroceryAid provides a confidential 24/7 Helpline, 365 days a year for anyone who is working or has worked within the grocery trade, regardless of the length of service. This free service provides emotional and practical support to help through a difficult time.
Find out more:
We are following all advice provided by WHO, PHE and the NHS:
Travelling Abroad Form
Please note: our Insurers have advised that travelling against Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice may jeopardise your Death in Service insurance cover.
If you are planning to travel, please can you ensure you check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office for advice beforehand.
If you decide to travel despite restrictions and/or warnings in place, please can you complete and submit the below form before you travel.
Essential Business Critical Repairs - Property Services Helpdesk
Please be aware that from Thursday 19th March, the Property Services Helpdesk will be enacting measures whereby all non-essential works will be suspended due to the current Coronavirus crisis throughout the UK. Therefore we ask that works requests are raised only for essential business critical repairs going forward.
All Property Team members will be working remotely, and whilst the service to the trading groups will be retained and will function as normal. In the case of any emergency, should you not be able to reach the Helpdesk phone number, whether it be In Hours or Out of Hours can you please liaise with the Contractors on the below lists direct in order to report the emergency, and then raise a works request via Property ServiceNow here as per the normal process so the Property Team are aware.
- Click here for a 24 Hour Emergency Contact List for Childcare.
- Click here for the Non-Childcare list for all other trading groups.
Thank you for your cooperation with the above,
The Property Services Team