Coronavirus: A letter from Referees’ Association Former Chair, Paul Field

To:  The Chairman & Secretary of all LRAs & CRAs  /  Life & Direct Members

We have been asked by a number of LRAs and CRAs for advice regarding Coronavirus.  It is our considered view that each Local and County RA has a duty of care towards its members, and hence (as we are also approaching the AGM season) the purpose of this email is to provide some relevant information and advice, albeit with the proviso that this may change in the coming days and weeks.

  1. Follow national government and/or local authority guidelines as and when these are produced, as we suspect that (especially if hotspots were to develop) specific areas of England would have different policies and procedures.
  2. We have attached above some basic and nationally available “preventative” public information sheets which have been approved and circulated by the NHS, and which you may wish to circulate to your membership.
  3. The RA has insurance for its Members, but this is unlikely to cover the spread of illness, and we suspect it would be almost impossible anyway to prove whether an individual had been exposed to the virus at an RA meeting or not.
  4. For RA members who may be employed on “zero hours” or “minimum wage” contracts, but who are instructed by a medical professional (including the NHS 111 system) to undertake a period of self-isolation and remain at home, the RA has a Benevolent Fund whose sole purpose is to support Members in times of genuine financial hardship.  We have attached above the relevant Claim Form in case of appropriate need.  Please note that, for good governance, it is not unreasonable for the claimant to provide a medical note to support their application.
  5. If there is any concern or doubt at all, please take the “safe steps” in order to protect your Members, even if this entails the postponement of your meetings.  This is of course a judgement call that will need to be made based on the local environment, and also on the personal profile of your membership.  Those of a senior age and/or those with underlying health concerns should be told not to attend.  We appreciate that some Members will find it difficult to accept such a situation, but their safety must remain the top priority of us all.
  6. If your area is placed in “lock-down”, either by the government or by the local health authorities, then the decision will have been made for you.
  7. In addition, the Officers of every LRA and CRA can always seek extra guidance from their own County FA, who will themselves also be receiving sound advice.
  8. At the end of the day, it remains a judgement call as to what actions need to be taken.

Technical and procedural matters:

  1. We appreciate that many LRAs and CRAs have within their Rules pre-determined AGM dates and/or other scheduled deadlines within their internal documentation, e.g. AGM Minutes.  We are also aware that, in previous years, failure to follow the Rules has caused some exasperation from well-meaning Members, but we are in unchartered waters here with this unprecedented Coronavirus situation.  You can always contact us via Head Office for independent advice regarding your Rules and procedures, as it is crucial that we minimise any dissatisfaction or misunderstanding.
  2. It is our view that this whole matter can best be managed locally by the use of good communications from those in post at LRAs and CRAs.  General agreement should be sought from your Members via electronic means to effect any postponements, and for good order it would not be unreasonable to document any such decisions and to note any “pencilled-in” revised dates.

With kind regards,

Paul Field



The Referees’ Association


The RA Claim Form