Coronavirus: Anger among workers as call centres stay open despite coronavirus fears

Coronavirus: Anger among workers as call centres stay open despite coronavirus fears

By Admin | 26/03/2020

Coronavirus: Anger among workers as call centres stay open despite coronavirus fears

STAFF at two call centres also raised concerns over their welfare and that of their colleagues.

Capita, which is based in Manvers, was accused of "total disregard" for social distancing, refusing to allow staff to work from home, a lack of hand sanitiser, telling workers they needed a sick note before going into self-isolation and insisting staff report for work even where there was nothing for them to do.

MP John Healey has written to the company after being contacted by a “large number” of “very concerned” staff.

One worried worker said: “Capita have advised that those going under self isolation would be doing so under full pay as well as those who needed to isolate due to underlying health conditions, only to then be called and informed that in fact this was a lie and statutory sick pay would be the only available option.

“They are hiding under the guise of classing us as key workers.”

Several departments were still operating despite lacking the ability to properly keep staff safely apart, said the staff member, who asked not to be named, adding: “Even if they offer from home working at this point it is too little too late.

“I just wanted to highlight the blatant disregard for the health of their staff and for the public in general by a lack of any real changes.”

In his letter to Capita, Mr Healey said he had been contacted by a large number of workers at the Manvers site and accused Capita of “falling short in the actions it is taking to safeguard its staff, as well as its business”.

He said: “I’m getting the same story from staff in other workplaces, as employers respond to the rapidly-changing circumstances of this Coronavirus crisis and some Government announcements which are not clear-cut.

“We need clearer direction from Government, and stronger action from employers to protect their staff and wider public health.”

A Capita spokesperson said:  "The top priority of Capita at this very difficult time is the well-being of our people.

"Many of our employees work for clients in sectors including utilities, telecommunications and financial services, who continue to need services in these challenging times.

"We have made arrangements for as many of our colleagues to work from home as possible, and have been increasing our capacity to support remote working every day.

"From now on, the only people who will be working from a Capita office are key workers as defined by the Government, or who are within an Exceptional Category of people providing other essential services - and for whom it remains not possible to work from home.

"Where homeworking is not possible, we are making adjustments in our workplaces to ensure that we are following all Government guidelines, including on Social Distancing and handwashing.

"We are constantly reviewing our practices as government guidance changes."

Just up the road at WebhelpUK, another call centre worker said no provision had been made to take account of government guidelines.

“They are not taking the two-metre rule seriously,” he said.

“There's a mixed message coming out from the government about key workers.

“There are vulnerable people and those with serious conditions.

“They (Webhelp UK) are just thinking about profit - I'm so frustrated."

Jon Chandler, responding of Webhelp UK, said: “Webhelp's number one priority  is the safety and well-being of our people and we are implementing all the Government guidelines to safeguard their health.

“We have implemented strict social distancing and hygiene measures in our workplaces in accordance with latest Government advice. 

“We are limiting the number of people on site to an absolute minimum to create as much physical space as possible and implementing measures such as desk spacing.

We are fully committed to tackling the Covid-19 crisis, both through the measures we take as company and through the vital support to the public on behalf of our clients.”



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