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Advice for Members in Northern Ireland

Last Updated: 13 August 2021

Although many Coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland have eased, some regulations remain in place to help stop the spread of Covid-19. More information on what the current guidance means for you can be found here.

Going to Work

In Northern Ireland people are advised to continue to work from home where possible.

Employers that require staff to come into the workplace must complete a mandatory risk assessment.

We recognise that the majority of Union members have continued to attend the workplace throughout the pandemic and the Union would expect the safety measures already in place to be maintained. Please speak to your Rep or Union Official if you have any concerns about health and safety in your workplace.

Social Distancing and Face Coverings

The legal requirement for social distancing outdoors no longer exists in Northern Ireland. However indoor premises such as shops, restaurants and workplaces are still required to comply with at least 1m (3ft).

In Northern Ireland, face coverings are still mandatory in all indoor settings. This includes shops, shopping centres and public transport. The guidance on face coverings provides more information on this issue.

Advice for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

While shielding advice for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people in Northern Ireland has ended, if you’re ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘vulnerable’ you are still advised to take extra precautions. Guidance for ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and ‘vulnerable’ people in Northern Ireland is available here.

Members who are clinically extremely vulnerable and concerned about any risks in their workplaces should speak with their Union Rep or Official.

Pregnant Employees

Employers have particular responsibilities towards workers who are new mothers or pregnant women. Members who are pregnant and concerned about any risks in their workplaces should speak with their Union Rep or Official.


From Monday 16 August, people in Northern Ireland who are notified as close contacts will no longer have to self-isolate if they have been fully vaccinated. They will still be advised to take a PCR Covid test on day two and eight of the process. If someone tests positive, they must continue to self-isolate, even if they do not have symptoms of the disease.

People who started self-isolating before 16 August can stop on that date but only if they have been fully vaccinated.

Job Retention Scheme (JRS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) will end on 30 September 2021. From 1 July 2021, the level of grant was reduced and employers were asked to contribute towards the cost of furloughed employees’ wages. For more details on how the scheme changed please click here.

Members concerned about job security or redundancy ahead of the end of the JRS should contact their Rep or Union Official for further advice.

Childcare and Schools

With some rules around self-isolation remaining in place, most working parents still face the challenge of balancing work and childcare. If you need to keep your child at home in line with public health advice to self-isolate, this may affect your ability to attend work due to the need to provide childcare. In these circumstances working parents have the following options:


  • Talk to your manager – in many companies the Union has agreed how working parents will be supported during the pandemic. This could mean changing the hours, days or times of day you work. It might mean using annual leave if you have leave available. Some companies are offering unpaid leave although the Union is clear that this is not a realistic option for many low paid families. We will continue to push both employers and the Government to financially support working parents during this time.

  • Talk to your Usdaw Rep or full time official – the Union has been working hard to encourage employers to support parents and while many are doing this some of our members are not getting the support they need. If you require support in discussions with your employer on this, please contact your in-store Usdaw Rep, or call your local Usdaw office.

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