Coronavirus update - 18 May 2020

May 18, 2020 |

NFSP

Headline information (updated 18 May)

 

Banking and cash management – Post Office answers your questions

Join us again on Wednesday for another national web event – this time we will be joined by

 

  • Martin Kearsley – PO Banking Director

 

  • Russell Hancock – PO Supply Chain Director

 

Further information, including the link to join will be provided soon.

Throughout the event, you will be able to submit written questions to both speakers through the ‘Live event Q&A’ function.

If you wish to submit any questions in advance of the event, you can do so by emailing communications@nfsp.org.uk (deadline for submitting questions is 2pm Wednesday 20 May).

 

Remuneration video now available on Facebook

The video recording of last week’s session with Amanda Jones and Nick Beal can be viewed on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NFSPLtd

 

Support from the NFSP (updated 12 May)

We are here to help you through this difficult period, and we encourage you to get in touch with us.

We are holding virtual regional meetings so you can catch up with other members and NFSP representatives together in an online setting.

Contact your Regional Secretary or Regional Non-Executive Director for more information – including when your next regional meeting is taking place

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 communications@nfsp.org.uk

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:

  • Staffing and your responsibilities as an employer - including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (option 1 if you call us).
  • Financial, landlord, rental and other property-related issues (option 2 if you call us).

We are providing regular updates to members, branch and regional representatives and staff.

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 12 May)

We are speaking with Post Office Ltd (PO) on a regular 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:

  • Historical Shortfall Scheme. Post Office Ltd (PO) has launched this scheme for current and former postmasters who believe they have experienced shortfalls related to previous versions of Horizon. For more information go to https://www.onepostoffice.co.uk/scheme The NFSP will be supporting members, past and present, who wish to make a claim through the scheme. We will provide more detail on this as soon as possible.
  • Royal Mail are suspending deliveries of standard letters and large letters on a Saturday. Deliveries of Special Delivery, Signed-For, Tracked and inbound International priority items along with all parcel sized items will continue on Saturdays. As a result, there is a change to mails segregation guidelines effective from Thursday 30 April: all Signed-For letters and large letters are to be dispatched with Special Delivery and International Priority items in the Specials bag until further notice. Please do not place Signed-For letters in your Letter/Large Letter bag. While this change in segregation practice is due to a change in Royal Mail’s Saturday deliveries, please note that it applies to all Signed-For letters and large letters you handle throughout the week. If you have any questions about this, or other issues relating to mails segregation, you can contact your local Mails Segregation Adviser.

 

  • HR webinar video and FAQs. On 21 April the NFSP held a successful webinar for members across the UK. Several hundred subpostmasters joined the meeting and heard from Angela Clay of NFSP partner organisation HR:4UK, and Post Office Ltd’s Iain Robertson. You can view the videos of the event on the NFSP Facebook page: www.facebook.com/NFSPLt HR:4UK have responded to the questions from NFSP members raised during the call – a comprehensive summary can be downloaded from the NFSP website HERE

 

  • ‘Payout Now’ and ‘Fast PACE’. PO has made these two products available to all UK banks, building societies and credit unions in order to help make cash available to anyone self-isolating due to the coronavirus. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the detail provided on these products on One online and Branch Focus.

 

  • Compliance test extension. As many subpostmasters and post office staff may be unavailable at times due to the coronavirus crisis, PO have extended the deadline for Broadband and Homephone compliance testing until 7 July 2020. We expect PO will provide further detail on this issue in due course.

 

  • Updating Post Office Branch Finder. Several subpostmasters have reported delays when seeking to update their opening hours on Branch Finder. The NFSP understands that it will be quicker to contact your Area Manager for this purpose, rather than going via NBSC. Branch Hub can also be used for this purpose.

 

  • Requesting PO staff to provide cover for customer-facing staff who are ill or self-isolating. PO are offering ‘central Post Office people’ who, subject to availability, may be able to come to your branch to help with serving or hosting customers to cover for staff who are off ill or self-isolating. PO have put together an online form for you to request such support: HERE

 

  • If you or your staff wish to wear a face mask, you should seek to acquire FFP2 or N95 respirators to offer the required level of protection. Any benefit from wearing these masks will be lost if you do not take the following steps:
    • Change the mask every 2-3 hours
    • Dispose of the mask effectively i.e. in an appropriate bin (preferably with a lid)
    • Wash your hands after disposing of the mask (and ensure your hands are clean when putting on a new mask)

 

  • Health and safety. Current guidelines indicate that there are no additional risks attached to the handling of mail items – even commercial items and international mail items. Otherwise, you should follow best practice in terms of personal hygiene e.g. regular handwashing and using hand sanitiser – as well as sterilising your counter and pin pads at regular intervals. (See below for info about how anti-bacterial wipes may not be sufficient in killing the coronavirus). Ensuring customers adhere to social distancing principles (for their and your safety) is also very important. PO have produced resources to help instruct customers – see One Post Office – and there are some good examples of how other subpostmasters and retailers are influencing customer behaviour HERE and HERE

 

  • Conversations with customers about their shopping behaviour. Many of you are frustrated that customers appear to be out and about conducting non-essential business during this ‘lockdown’ period. This is a tricky situation – post offices are classed as ‘essential services’, as are convenience / food stores. Other retail offers – e.g. cards and stationery – without a convenience / food element are not classed as essential and, without an adjoined post office, would be required to close during the ‘lockdown’. The NFSP has previously advised members that they should use their discretion about keeping their non-essential retail element open to customers. It is our view that you should make the decision about continuing to offer these products/services based on your own personal and business circumstances – see our urgent update from 24 March HERE.

 

  • Support for the self-employed. The government has 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. A general summary of the measures is available HERE

 

  • Essential services / critical workers. Post offices are listed in the government’s guidelines as ‘essential services’ and can remain open during the current ‘lockdown’, and Subpostmasters and their post office staff have been be classified as ‘critical workers’. 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: 1) Is the rest of your business (besides the post office) an ‘essential service’? 2) What is the most appropriate way of managing staff and resources at this time?

 

  • Anti-bacterial wipes. We understand that many subpostmasters are using anti-bacterial wipes to disinfect surfaces, keypads etc. Coronavirus is not a bacterium so you must use a disinfectant product that kills virusesg. Dettol or an alcohol-based product. Some anti-bac products may also be disinfectants, so check the label/small print to see if the products you are using kill viruses as well as bacteria.

 

  • Customers not adhering to self-isolation/social-distancing guidelines. Many subpostmasters are concerned about this issue and PO have produced posters for subpostmasters to use (available on One Post Office). The NFSP is reviewing these to see if further materials would be of use to our members. PO have also shared examples of what some subpostmasters are doing to ensure customers practise appropriate social distancing HERE

 

  • Cash in transit & REMs. We are monitoring whether REMs will be impacted and what contingency measures will be put into place. The current status is that cash in transit is operating ‘as normal’.

 

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.

 

Further information

For the latest info from the NFSP on coronavirus – see:

 

 

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