Coronavirus: ‘We are usually not working in secure circumstances’

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Jay Patel

“We don’t feel the conditions we have to work under are safe, we weren’t given any protection from the Post Office. No hand sanitiser, gloves, no aprons or anything, we had to source them ourselves.”

Jay Patel, 37, and his spouse Nilam run a department submit workplace in Bournemouth and as “essential retailers” are staying open to serve their neighborhood.

But they’re amongst many employees within the UK complaining that they don’t seem to be being adequately protected towards the coronavirus, amid a scarcity of readability from the federal government.

The authorities has stated anybody who can’t do their job from home ought to proceed to go to work, so long as their employer follows Public Health England security pointers.

Many companies “do not know whether to stay open or to close”, the director common of the CBI enterprise organisation Carolyn Fairbairn stated.

The Business committee stated it had acquired greater than 1,000 emails from employees who felt they shouldn’t be going into work however have been too afraid to talk out for fear they’d lose their jobs.

“From the evidence we’ve received it’s clear that many businesses are still not doing the right thing,” stated Rachel Reeves, chair of the committee.

Post workplaces are amongst a small group of “essential retailers” the federal government says are allowed to remain open through the the coronavirus outbreak.

However, from development employees to front-line store employees, many have expressed anger at being made to proceed doing work that feels inessential or unsafe.

On Wednesday, employees on the bicycle restore chain Halfords launched a web-based petition after the chain vowed to maintain retailers open, however was accused of getting insufficient security measures in place.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bike retailers have been labeled as important

Mr Patel says many purchasers are nonetheless utilizing his submit workplace for non-essential actions, akin to returning garments purchased on-line.

And whereas the Post Office, for which he works as a franchisee, did give him £50 in direction of security objects in the long run, he says it got here too late, when every thing had offered out. The agency additionally instructed him he couldn’t refuse any transaction, even inessential ones.

“It means we are handling parcels we shouldn’t, coming into close contact with the public, as well as doing the essential stuff like providing people’s benefits which means handling dirty bank notes,” Mr Patel says.

“I tell customers not to come in unless they have to, to keep two-metres apart, but the message isn’t getting through. It is putting lives at risk.”

A Post Office spokesman stated its branches offered a significant lifeline for banking providers in addition to parcels and letters to be despatched through the outbreak. He additionally stated many Post Offices had ground markers and different data on posters to assist prospects keep two-metres aside, and that extra security measures can be provided.

Not important?

But James, who works at manufacturing facility in London that makes excessive finish parts, says his agency isn’t sticking to the rules.

“There is only one shared hand sanitiser, I have my own but many people don’t. The canteen is often busy, there’s no way people are two-metres apart. Even on the shop floor we cross each others paths. No one is wearing masks.”

He additionally believes that whereas a few of what the manufacturing facility does could possibly be classed as important, most of it isn’t, and but his bosses are reluctant to cut back the 30-strong workforce.

This is even supposing the federal government has agreed to pay 80% of payrolled staff’ salaries, as much as £2,500 a month, if they’re furloughed.

“People are fearful, however the managers say they’re following authorities pointers, that manufacturing can keep open. I feel they’re fearful they’ll lose enterprise and that different factories will keep open.

“The government would make it a lot easier if it just stopped all non-essential manufacturing.”

Staff payrises

Acknowledging the considerations, retailers akin to Next and Amazon have provided some employees pay rises to maintain engaged on website or additional time.

Next, whose High Street shops are all closed, stated there have been some objects in its retailers that had already been ordered and have been promised to prospects, so a small group of volunteers will decide them beneath “strict supervision and social distancing rules”.

Image copyright Getty Images

However, some employees have needed to take issues into their very own palms.

Jane, who works as a PA at development agency, instructed the BBC that as of Monday this week, she and different administrative employees began working from home towards the corporate’s needs.

“My boss in particular is not happy about this and believes I should still be travelling into London by public transport. The building sites are also still open,” she stated.

“I have been threatened with statutory sick pay if I do not come into the office, however I want to follow government guidelines and I also I live with someone who has an illness which makes them high risk. The company are currently looking at sacking staff or making staff redundant.”

A authorities spokesman stated: “We’ve been clear that employers must make all efforts to help people to work from home.”

“We urge employers to listen to the concerns of their workforce and take socially responsible decisions.”