Latest advice and information on the Covid-19 outbreak
We will try to keep SUSE members up to date with ongoing developments during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic on the SUSE website. A number of our partners and stakeholders have published advice and information. We are particularly indebted to our colleagues at GCVS who have allowed us to share their updates. We have also included links to SCVO, the Scottish Government and OSCR among others on this page. We will be updating this regularly in the weeks ahead.
Please find below the latest UK Government information about the current corona crisis situation. Please ensure all of your colleagues are made aware and adhere to the instructions. Those who are key workers and providing vital services are still able to provide those services.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a series of new restrictions to fight the coronavirus outbreak in a televised address at 8.30pm on 23rd March – the full address can be seen here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52011928
What are the new measures?
The prime minister said:
• Shops selling “non-essential goods” including clothes and electronics stores will be closed immediately
• Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship will also close
• Gatherings of more than two people (excluding people who live together) will be banned
• There will be no weddings or baptisms but funerals will be allowed
• Parks will remain open but people are only to go out to exercise once a day
Mr Johnson said if these rules are not followed then police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
People are also being told not to meet friends or family members who do not live with them.
People are only allowed to leave their homes in future for specific and limited purposes:
• Shopping for “basic necessities”, as infrequently as possible. People should use delivery services, where they can
• Medical reasons, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
• Travelling to and from work, but only if it is “absolutely necessary”
The measures will last for three weeks from 23rd March before being reviewed.
What about online deliveries?
Customers should still be able to receive deliveries placed online.
Amazon told the BBC that there would be some changes, with essential items (like food and healthcare products) being prioritised. That means that delivery times for other items may take longer than usual.
Amazon drivers have been advised to place packages at the customer’s doorstep and step back, in order to avoid any unnecessary contact.
What about parents who live in separate places?
Parents who live separately will also be allowed to move children under 18 between their houses, according to Cabinet minister Michael Gove.
Why are tougher restrictions being introduced?
The government had already told people that to prevent the spread of coronavirus they should only go out when necessary – for example, to buy food and medicine, or for exercise.
When out, people have been told to keep at least 2m (6ft) apart from other people. This is known as social distancing. This was not being adhered to throughout the country, particularly over the weekend.
The advice, guidance and instructions from the government on the management of the pandemic continues to change on a daily basis.
UK Government – Coronovirus (COVID-19): UK Government Guidance
Scottish Government – https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/
OSCR – For charities, there are some specific concerns that OSCR have become aware of and these have been covered on their website here
Scottish Training Federation (STF) – STF have shared a statement on their website from SDS for their members – you can find this here
SCVO Statement on COVID-19 here together with Information and Guidance to support your organisation
Disability Rights UK are updating their website regularly – here
Business Disability Forum have shared a legal update – March 2020 specifically discussing Coronavirus – here
GCVS have given us permission to share their latest guidance below – this is particularly relevant for service providers.
Sick Pay Considerations
Relative to anyone who self-isolates because they have been at risk, are symptomatic or have the virus:
- SSP is now payable from day one of any absence.
- SSP can be reclaimed from HMRC (the same process as reclaiming statutory maternity pay) for organisations with <250 staff.
- The organisational sickness/absence management policy would apply. However, as SSP can be reclaimed, it is important to consider if you can offer any enhancement to the sick pay. This is particularly relevant for organisations who only provide SSP and for those staff who have used their entitlement to Occupational Sick Pay due to other absences (including any relating to underlying health conditions).
- Wherever possible, staff can be encouraged to homework as we move further into the Delay phase of the Covid-19 strategy. Employers need to ensure they have all resources required including hardware, security software, access to the systems/network and an internet connection.
- Organisations may need to provide laptops or otherwise for staff to use and/or dongles pre-loaded with internet usage allowance.
- If staff will be homeworking for any period of time, it is important to consider health & safety – do they have somewhere suitable to work, a dining table or desk which will provide a reasonable workstation?
- Ensure regular communication with every staff member homeworking – have check-in and check-out times to ensure managers are aware of when they fall under the responsibility of the organisation.
- For those who have their own offices, the risk is reduced and homeworking may not be necessary. However, consideration must be given to their method of commuting. If they use public transport this could be a risk. If the organisation has parking access, staff could be encouraged to drive if they have access to their own vehicle. Alternatively, the organisation could consider paying for parking if no free parking is available.
- Consider allowing staff to use annual leave, unpaid leave or TOIL if they are not self-isolating but cannot work from home.
- The other option to consider would be allowing staff to accrue a negative TOIL balance with the agreement that it will be worked back within a reasonable period of time. This would not cost the organisation or the staff member any money.
We at SUSE would also like to alert you to homeworking and cyber security – see below:
Cyber Security: It is important to be aware that when staff are homeworking cyber security may not be as stringent so please be aware of email scams – click on images link below for more information on this and how to make preparations for home working safe.