Skip to main content

Clearer guidance around the Covid-19 app is needed, says Co-operatives UK CEO

News item

17th July 2021
Last updated
23rd July 2021
Covid 19 app
Co-operatives UK members are reporting an increase in notifications from the Covid-19 app

Co-operative businesses are reporting a sharp increase in their staff receiving notifications from the Covid-19 app.

Members of Co-operatives UK are reporting staff shortages, colleagues having to cover each other at short notice and in some cases reduced or even closed businesses.

But it might not be necessary according to Co-operatives UK’s CEO, Rose Marley who made a call out for clearer guidance on the BBC’s Newsnight programme on Friday evening (16 July 2021).

Quote mark
The legislation is really clear. But the following guidance isn’t. It’s just not clear enough to employers that they can override a notification if following an investigation - for example looking at shift patterns and CCTV - if it’s clear that they haven’t been in prolonged close contact with the colleague in question.
– Rose Marley, CEO, Co-operatives UK

She said, “Because our members are co-ops and they care about their staff, many have very generous pay arrangements in place. They don’t want to see colleagues adversely affected by having to isolate so most are paying 100% of salaries.

“They then have to backfill staff on top of this pay, sometimes drafting in colleagues from other parts of the business who may be paid overtime. Some of the largest co-ops are going to face quite substantial wage bills this quarter, way over and above their normal costs, just for doing the right thing.”

Quote mark
It’s a harsh truth that we are aware of employees in other types of business turning off their notifications through fear of being ‘pinged’. Some businesses even recommend this when in actual fact there is a more sensible route, which is to investigate what actually has happened. Especially when it appears to make no sense as to why a staff member has been notified, rather than switching the app off altogether.
– Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK

“Businesses aren’t clear on what data the app is collecting so are questioning its sensitivity when colleagues are notified. Some of this confusion and misunderstanding could be better addressed with clearer guidance outlining the correct process to follow, because the last thing we want people to do is to abandon their trust in the app.”

Co-operatives UK is urging members to contact their advice team if they are unsure of what to do if multiple colleagues are contacted, to continue ensuring the app is part of their armoury in the fight against this persistent and disruptive virus.

Find out about Co-operatives UK advice services
Members can access advice through our Contact Package

Not sure when to isolate?

Check out our Covid HR guidance
Related content