Protecting colleagues and customers
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. We also gave a 10% bonus on the hourly rate to colleagues working across our stores and distribution, for the duration of the Christmas season. Colleagues received the 10% bonus between 29 November and 26 December 2020, if they were in role on or before 1 September 2020.
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 information on shopping safely during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is available here.
Additional help for those who need it
We know it can be hard for older people, those who are extremely medically vulnerable*, and family carers to get what they need at busy times. Therefore, we have dedicated shopping times for these groups, up to 9am Monday to Friday. We would ask that our valued customers support these dedicated shopping hours, in line with public health guidance.
In addition, healthcare workers, care workers and emergency services personnel, continue to have priority access to our stores at all other times. Anyone in these groups can come to the front of the queue when they shop at our stores - they simply need to bring valid identification with them as they present to stores.
For those who cannot make it to store or prefer not to, we continue to support the Government’s Community Call Initiative and have issued guidance to Local Authorities for volunteers shopping in our stores. We are providing volunteers with priority access, and facilitating phone payments as needed.
We are also pleased to support the Irish Society of Chron’s and Colitis, whose members are living with inflammatory bowel disease. Our colleagues are familiar with the ‘No Waiting Card’, should an ISCC member require urgent access to our public toilets.
*Public health guidance in relation to the extremely medically vulnerable is available here
Grocery Home Shopping
It’s been a really busy time for our Grocery Home Shopping service. Our colleagues who schedule delivery slots, pick orders in stores, field our customer queries, and deliver to customers are doing a brilliant job and - while slots are filling up fast - we’re working hard to fill orders to make sure that if customers can’t get to their local store, they can get what is needed online.
Our Grocery Home Shopping Drivers have also been provided with hand sanitising and surface wipes and advice on social distancing. They also know what steps to take if they are delivering to homes where somebody might be self-isolating.
We are pleased to have been able to make more delivery slots available as a result of a number of changes, including asking our customers to ‘Think before you Click’ by only shopping online if really needed. We have also expanded our Click & Collect services in 14 locations nationwide. To date, measures undertaken have resulted in thousands of additional slots being made available to customers around the country.
We have also been able to prioritise our over-65 customers, nursing homes and care homes with earlier access to slots, and we would encourage anybody who is vulnerable at this time and does not have support in their community to contact us for assistance.