The following is the latest update from the NFSP on the coronavirus situation as of 4pm 27 March 2020.
Headline information (updated 27 March)
Support for the self-employed.
Yesterday (Thursday 26 March), the Chancellor announced support measures for self-employed people to help protect earnings during the coronavirus crisis.
The NFSP is examining what the announced measures will mean for subpostmasters with the intention of providing a tailored summary for NFSP members. However, this is proving to be a complex task as there are many variables and different circumstances to consider – as well as areas where further detail may be required on top of the information government has provided so far.
With that in mind, we will update you as soon as we are able to provide a substantive summary tailored to subpostmasters.
A general summary of the measures announced yesterday is available HERE
Elsewhere, all NFSP members should ensure they have familiarised themselves with the key info we shared earlier in the week – as follows:
Post offices are listed in the government’s guidelines as ‘essential services’ and can remain open during the current ‘lockdown’. See HERE
Subpostmasters and their post office staff have been be classified as ‘critical workers’ (also referred to as ‘key workers’) See HERE
However, because the vast majority of sub post offices are attached to a retail offer, there are layers of complexity relating to staying open and we advise all NFSP members to review our urgent update from Tuesday 24 March HERE which addresses two key questions:
Support from the NFSP (updated 26 March)
We are here to help you through this difficult period and we encourage you to get in touch with us.
If you are not already, you should join your local branch and/or regional NFSP WhatsApp groups. These are a good place to get the latest info and advice on the current coronavirus situation (and to keep in touch with the NFSP and other members in your area). Speak to your Branch or Regional Secretary about joining – or email us at email@example.com
We have a team taking calls during business hours on a range of issues. NFSP members shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch on 01273 452324.
By calling us, all NFSP members can receive professional advice on key issues relating to:
We are providing daily updates to members, branch and regional representatives and staff.
Where possible, we are holding virtual regional meetings so members can catch up with members and NFSP representatives together in an online setting (as face-to-face meetings have been postponed in line with recommended social distancing measures). Contact your Regional Secretary or Regional Non-Executive Director for more information.
We have produced a summary of the various financial support measures the government are introducing for businesses in response to the coronavirus. The summary can be accessed via the NFSP website HERE
What else should you be aware of? (updated 27 March)
We are speaking with Post Office Ltd (PO) on a daily basis and monitoring Royal Mail’s activities closely to ensure information is shared appropriately for the benefit of the network.
There are several specific issues you should be aware of:
We have also written to Paul Scully, Minister for Postal Affairs, to highlight the challenges subpostmasters are facing at this time and request that government ensures that the post office network is adequately supported through this crisis.
Your staff (updated 25 March)
If you employ staff in your business, then you should ensure they are aware of the instructions for self-isolation and familiarise yourself with the relevant guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (see the NFSP’s urgent update from 24 March – specifically question 2) What is the most appropriate way of managing staff and resources at this time?
If any of your staff exhibit a high temperature or a new continuous cough, then you should instruct them to leave work and self-isolate for 14 days.
Certain groups of people are considered to be more vulnerable – those who are pregnant, aged 70 or over, or have a pre-existing health condition. However, there are currently no instructions that these people should avoid coming into work – so you should use your discretion as an employer to advise your staff about staying healthy and safe.
If you have any questions about your staff or your responsibilities as an employer in light of the coronavirus, you can speak to an expert adviser at the NFSP’s partner organisation HR:4UK. Call NFSP HQ on 01273 452324 (option 1) to be put through.
Subpostmasters in ‘at risk’ groups (updated 23 March)
We have heard from several NFSP members who are in an ‘at risk’ group (those who are pregnant, aged 70+, or have an underlying health condition) and are unsure of how to act.
Current government instructions are for people in ‘at risk’ groups to stay at home and avoid unnecessary, close contact with other people for up to 12 weeks.
The NFSP is looking into this issue as a matter of urgency and we will share information about how subpostmasters who are ‘at risk’ should act and what support will be available to them if/when they are required to self-isolate.
Your contract with Post Office Ltd will not be affected if you need to close or reduce your hours due to the coronavirus. You can report closures, or changes to your opening hours online by logging into One Post Office. See HERE
Royal Mail (updated 20 March)
RE international mail. Royal Mail (RM) report that customers can expect some delays on a country by country basis (see HERE). Priority mail is still to be accepted and posted as normal.
Since Thursday 19 March 2020 onwards, RM will no longer guarantee delivery by 1pm the next working day. RM will still prioritise Special Delivery parcels and letters and will aim to deliver these by 1pm or before the end of day. The Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am service remains unchanged; RM still guarantee to deliver by 9am.
P739 offices or any offering Local Collect are recommended not to hand the pen or form to customers and should instead themselves write the name of the person collecting the item together with the date and time.
Public Health England (PHE) advises there is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from affected areas.
RM says deliveries to Iran and Kuwait are suspended and the whole of Italy is now in the yellow zone with accompanying precautionary measures in place. For the full list of international incidents please click: Royal Mail country incident bulletin.
Support for temporary subpostmasters (updated 19 March)
The NFSP has spoken to PO about support for temporary operators. PO have stated that they will aim to support temporary operators in the same way as other (non-temporary) subpostmasters in the support they provide.
Other support for subpostmasters in the event of closure (updated 18 March)
Continuing trading (updated 17 March)
Current guidance is for you to continue trading as normal unless you are required to self-isolate or you cannot remain open as your staff are unable to come into work due to coronavirus.
The government have just announced that self-isolation is required for anyone who develops any of the following symptoms:
People living alone should self-isolate for 7 days from when their symptoms started.
For people living with others – if any person within a household has symptoms of coronavirus, all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
NFSP Annual Conference (updated 17 March)
Due to the coronavirus, the NFSP Annual Conference has now been postponed and will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon from Sunday 25 October to Tuesday 27 October 2020.
Further information (updated 19 March)
For the latest info from the NFSP on coronavirus – see: