The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our priority and we’re following the advice of the health authorities to make sure we’re taking the right steps, for example:
- Our stores are regularly cleaned, but we’ve also taken on additional cleaning services so that our trolleys, baskets, self-scan machines, ‘scan as you shop’ handsets, and chip and pin terminals are regularly cleaned with disinfectant products. There are also increased hand sanitisation stations available at our store entrances and exits.
- Our colleagues are taking regular breaks to wash their hands thoroughly and we have provided them with hand and surface antibacterial wipes.
- We’re operating social distancing in store and we’re reminding our customers with advertising, signs and messaging. We're also asking customers to adhere to 'one trolley one person' in store, where possible. We recognise that this is not always possible, and where customers need to come to stores with their family, or other people in their care, we will of course adopt a common-sense approach.
- In line with Government Regulations, it is now mandatory for colleagues and customers and to wear a face covering in our stores. Colleagues working behind protective screens are exempt from wearing face coverings, and - in line with the Regulations - where there is a reasonable excuse not to wear a mask, customers will not be required to wear one. Colleagues are aware that there are instances where people will be unable to wear a face covering and we all need to be understanding in these cases. We have made face masks available to colleagues, and continue to share the latest public health guidance, including around the correct way to wear and dispose of face coverings. For customers, we continue to share public health guidance on safe shopping at this time, reminding them through signage and audio messaging of the requirement to wear face coverings.
- We have rolled out queue-management technology at our store entrances. The technology indicates the number of people in store at any one time, highlighting when it is safe to enter with directional arrows permitting entry, or a stop sign if customers need to wait. This is a simple, accurate way of reducing queue times and allows our colleagues spend more time helping customers.
- At checkouts, we’ve installed plexiglass screens, as well as floor markings and signs to keep a two-metre gap at both ends.
- Community is really important to us, but for hygiene purposes, we’ve paused charity bag-packing and the distribution of our Community Fund blue tokens for now – we’ll begin these activities again as soon as we can. In the meantime, we are still working hard to support our communities by supporting charities nationally and locally with a series of donations through the Community Fund to help those most in need. Find out more here.
We really appreciate the hard work of our colleagues who are going over and above, as well as the support and encouragement that our customers are showing to our staff in our stores. It really helps as we all play our part.
In recognition of our colleagues' effort and dedication during this challenging time, we gave a 10 per cent bonus for colleagues across stores and distribution backdated to 9 March until 1 May, at which point we extended it for a further four weeks.
And, to help our colleagues in protecting their mental as well as physical health at this time, all colleagues across retail, distribution and our head office, have also been provided with free access to the Headspace app until April 2021.
In addition to this, we are also supporting colleagues in that, should they become sick with Covid-19, we have temporarily amended our Sick Pay policy to reflect the Government amendments to Social Welfare Illness Benefit. Colleagues will be paid sick pay from the first day of absence - less the value of the Social Welfare Illness Benefit - if they are medically certified as having the coronavirus or are required to enter into medically certified self-isolation due to the coronavirus by a doctor.
The HSE has published the below guidelines on shopping safely during the coronavirus pandemic, and there is further information available here.
Additional little helps this Christmas
For the Christmas season, we are also introducing some additional measures, including:
- Extended store opening hours across all of our stores, to help customers access what they need.
- Additional physical distancing and face covering signage at our stores.
- Wet weather awnings, where required.
We have also introduced new Scan as You Shop technology at most stores in recent months, for a speedier shop, and have worked to add thousands of new delivery slots to our online shopping and click-and-collect services, as well as extending hours for these services in the weeks ahead.
We would also encourage customers to shop earlier, shop at off-peak times (pre 11am, post 7pm), and shop alone over this period, where possible, to help create the safest and easiest shopping experience possible this Christmas – we recognise this isn’t always possible, and will of course be operating a common-sense approach in this regard.
We recognise that this will be a very different Christmas and, in acknowledgement of colleagues' incredible effort to date, we will be giving a 10% bonus on the hourly rate to colleagues working across our stores and distribution, for the duration of the Christmas season. Colleagues will receive the 10% bonus between 29 November and 26 December 2020, if they were in role on or before 1 September 2020. We will also be increasing the existing ‘colleague shopping discount’ from 10 per cent to 20 per cent from 15 December to 21 December.