Branch closures & reducing hours

24 April

What happens to deliveries and collections if my branch is operating reduced hours?
We have around 4,000 branches nationally operating on restricted hours at the moment, so it’s not possible to alter our delivery and collection routes to account for these changes, as altering for one branch may have a knock-on effect on other Postmasters who have already set their restricted hours around usual delivery times.

As a result, we would appreciate it if branches operating on restricted hours on their scheduled service day can remain open (or have a member of the team available onsite) until their remittance has arrived. If it helps, we can arrange for our Supply Chain depots to call in advance of delivery. While we’re making every effort to maintain a good level of service, unfortunately, if the delivery arrives and a branch is closed, we cannot guarantee recovery.


 

23 April

How do I let you know when I’m re-opening my branch?
We’ve listened to your feedback and have made it easier for you to let us know you are re-opening your branch, following a reported closure. Using Branch Hub, you can tell us when you have re-opened your branch and this will update in Branch Finder within 24 hours so your customers are aware of the change.

It’s great to hear almost 2000 of you have already registered for Branch Hub. It’s a quick and convenient way to access Post Office services, with new additional features being developed and launched in the coming months. You can sign up today at https://branchhub.postoffice.co.uk.


 

3 April

Can you advise if I should keep running my Outreach service?
Post Offices have been designated an essential service, which means they should stay open to provide a vital lifeline for banking services, benefits, and to enable letters and parcels to be sent – as long as this can be done safely and with appropriate care for vulnerable postmasters and branch teams. This also applies to Outreach, which provides Post Office services to isolated communities, provided that the location you run them from is not a village hall, community centre, other public venue or non-essential retail outlet which has been closed based on Government advice. 

We appreciate you also have concerns about your own wellbeing and that of your employees, so access to hand-washing and toilet facilities, and whether you can properly follow the guidelines on social isolation may have a bearing on whether you can keep running the Outreach service safely. We are dispatching gloves to the independent branch network, including mobile Post Offices from this week and are prioritise sending out stocks of hand sanitiser we obtain to mobile Post Offices. As you know, consistent with your status as key workers, we are working hard for all Post Offices to be on the priority distribution list for stocks of hand sanitiser – but you will understand that NHS facilities are top of the list. 

If you are forced to close your Outreach service because of the coronavirus outbreak (e.g. no access to the host site or because you are self-isolating), then you can let us know by logging this on Branch Hub.

  • If you want to sign up or have already registered for Branch Hub, click here to sign-up/log in.
  • If you’re new to Branch Hub, click here to see a short video about how to register for the first time.

Please rest assured that the fixed elements of your remuneration for the Outreach service will be paid for now. We will let you know if we need to make changes to our position.


1 April

Can I adjust my opening hours at this time? (originally published 27 March)
We recognise you may wish to adjust your opening hours to take account of customer demand, your team’s availability, the impact of illness or self-isolation and potential opportunities to reduce costs through furlough, to enable you to access Government funding. In the Directly Managed Branch network, most of which are in city centre locations, we have reduced to six hours a day during the week, to reflect customer demand. As independent Postmasters, you will know what is best for your branch. 

If you need to reduce your hours, please let us know as soon as you can so that we can help notify customers. You can do this by logging onto Branch Hub.

  • If you want to sign up or have already registered for Branch Hub, click here to sign-up/log in.
  • If you’re new to Branch Hub, click here to see a short video about how to register for the first time.

There is currently a backlog of requests to update Branch Finder and these are being worked through as quickly as possible to ensure customers can access accurate and up-to-date opening hours. Additional Post Office Limited colleagues are being allocated to support the processing of your information, so that Branch Finder can be accurate to help you and your customers.


30 March 

How I can I request support from Post Office employees in my branch?
We are mobilising central Post Office people who can go out to branches to help with serving or hosting customers. The form is now available, so if you need an extra pair of hands in your branch to cover people who are off ill or self-isolating, please fill in the short form here. Please note that, while we won’t be able to help every branch, we will meet as many requests as possible. 

If I have to close my branch, are there any tasks I need to complete if I have an ATM?
If your branch needs to close, please can you balance the ATM. This is important as if a customer claims for a mis-dispense we need to understand the financial state of the ATM. We have sent out a memoview (view this here) about this, which contains all the operational detail you will need.


26 March

What do I do about mail getting trapped in branch?
In order to reduce the risk of mail being trapped in your branch, please remind customers posting after your last collection time that the mail will not leave your branch tonight. If there is an increased risk of your branch being unable to open the following day, please advise the customers of this and that the mail may be on site for some days.


25 March

Is Post Office speeding up the issuing of SMART ID’s to help keep offices open during these difficult times?
To avoid temporary branch closures at this time we’ll be able to issue temporary IDs as a default while vetting is carried out on new branch assistants. We will monitor and cease the ID if there is anything of concern, but recognise that these are exceptional times and our priority is to support you in keeping branches open so that we can continue to serve vulnerable customers. Please follow the following process: 

  • Email the full P250 vetting pack with no mistakes or missing parts to hr.assistant.checks@postoffice.co.uk
  • Please ensure you provide us with a branch email address in the body of the email for the smart ID to be sent to once created
  • Incomplete P250s will be returned, resulting in a delay with the Temp ID
  • In the subject – 6 digit FAD code, Branch Name and temp ID are required
  • A temp ID will be issued as soon as possible once all relevant information has been received, checked and uploaded in the Smart ID system
  • Checks will be completed with Experian and updated accordingly –no correspondence will be issued when an assistant has cleared vetting
  • If an assistant fails vetting this will be communicated accordingly within 10 working days

Northern Ireland candidates
The above process still applies for all Northern Ireland applications, but it is imperative you supply us with a branch email. Once we have completed a Credit & Voters check an email will be sent, rather than a letter, advising the applicant can log into Access NI to complete their own application with the PIN supplied. This must be done as soon as possible to avoid any delays or resulting in the Smart ID being turned off due to non-completion.  This will be checked daily and followed up.

The BAU process will remain the same – i.e. new offices due to go live at a future date. Please ensure enough time is given (at least 15 working days) for Experian to process checks and issue a Smart ID.


24 March

In the event of a branch being closed due to illness or self-isolation, what support will be available to ensure vulnerable customers can still access vital services? (originally published 19 March)
If a branch has to shut we are signposting customers to their nearest open branch. We are making amendments to Branch Finder in real time so customers can see which branches are open or adjusting their hours. If you are in a position where you need to amend your hours or close, please do this by logging it on Branch Hub.

  • If you want to sign up or have already registered for Branch Hub, click here to sign-up/log in.
  • If you’re new to Branch Hub, click here to see a short video about how to register for the first time.

Please be aware of the memoview that has gone out giving advice on how Post Office card account (POca) customers can apply to have a Permanent Agent setup on their account. This will allow a trusted third party to be able to collect cash on behalf of the customer with a separate card and PIN. 

Should customers over the age of 70 and those who are vulnerable, be self-isolating themselves, this would give them the option of someone collecting cash on their behalf.


21 March

Government has asked all people over 70 or with an underlying illness to self-isolate for 12 weeks as I am in both categories. Do I have to keep the Post Office open?
Over 70s have been advised that they are in one of the highest risk groups so we would not expect you to put yourselves at risk. You can do this by logging it on Branch Hub.

  • If you want to sign up or have already registered for Branch Hub, click here to sign-up/log in.
  • If you’re new to Branch Hub, click here to see a short video about how to register for the first time.

We are reviewing the impact of service in all areas where there is a closed branch and our priority is to do what we keen to maintain services safely in areas where there is the greatest customer need. 

What should I do if my employees or I get ill, and I have to reduce my hours or close my business? (originally published 16 March)
If you have to close your branch or reduce the number of trading hours due to coronavirus illness in your branch, please let us know by logging this on Branch Hub.

  • If you want to sign up or have already registered for Branch Hub, click here to sign-up/log in.
  • If you’re new to Branch Hub, click here to see a short video about how to register for the first time.

If you can, please report online, as it will free our support centre agents to deal with other calls. If you are not able to go online, then please contact the Branch Support Centre on 0333 345 5567.