A TRADE union is calling on the Government to cover the cost of all workers having to pay to use transport and buy their own face coverings.

The call comes as new figures reveal retail workers in Herefordshire are more reliant on public transport for commuting than those in some traditionally office-based jobs.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show five percent of Herefordshire workers in the retail trade used public transport to commute in 2018.

This is compared to two percent of those who work in some traditionally office-based roles such as those in information and communication, finance and insurance, real estate, and public administration.

Though more people are returning to work, they are still being advised to avoid public transport if they can, with face coverings mandatory.

The Resolution Foundation think tank has called on the Chancellor to provide more support to sectors which will be heavily affected by social distancing.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said public transport use is much more concentrated at particular times than other forms of commuting.

Peter Levell, senior research economist at the IFS, said: "Social distancing measures will put strain on public transport capacity for some time to come.

“This means that workers who cannot easily work from home, and who would normally commute using public transport, are going to face challenges getting to work even if the sectors that employ them are allowed to reopen.”

He said this group includes a lot of younger workers, who have already been “disproportionately hit economically” by the effects of lockdown.

Just nine percent of retail staff in Herefordshire worked from home, compared to 24 percent of employees in office-based jobs.

Rehana Azam, GMB Union national secretary, said: “Many workers fighting this outbreak have no option but to use public transport.

"Workers have to pay their fare, then pay for the PPE they are required to wear.

"It's impossible to rule out the increased exposure to the virus while travelling on public transport.”

She also called on the Government to continue providing free parking for health and social care workers.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Throughout the pandemic we have spent billions to ensure essential services can continue and are now increasing services as more people return to work.

“We continue to invest to improve public transport for passengers, with record spending on improving our rail and bus networks.”