PROVIDENT Financial have confirmed they have had three Covid-19 cases among staff but rejected criticism that they were not operating proper social distancing measures.
Members of the public who contacted the T&A said the Bradford-based lender were not getting as many staff as they could to work from home and not properly socially distancing employees when they were in the office.
But the company – which also runs the Vanquis Bank brand – rejected the criticism saying employees were asked to work from home and social distancing rules operated for staff in their Thornton road building.
A spokesperson said the company’s other measures brought in for the coronavirus epidemic included an enhanced cleaning regime and a ban on hot-desking.
One of the people who got in touch with the T&A was Imran Rehman who works for the Equality for Workers Union (EFWU).
He said: “I have been contacted by members of the union who work at the Vanquis Bank call centre in the Bradford city centre.
“They report there has been confirmed cases of the covid-19 virus in the call centre, the first being confirmed on the 28th of April and the second has been reported yesterday (May 6).”
He said another person was tested positive on site last Monday and sent home.
He added: “The staff are understandably anxious about working on site and they report that the social distancing rules are not being followed at all times. They have communal lifts on site.”
Someone else speaking on behalf of a worker said: “I’m concerned as the company has had three confirmed cases all together, one being yesterday.
“Colleagues are still hot desking and the two-metre policy isn’t being applied as it should. The outbreak is getting very worrying and certain organisations are not following certain procedures to keep staff members safe from the virus as the simple distancing rule has not been applied.”
A third person speaking for another worker said the company were not doing as much as they could to help staff isolate.
But a Provident Financial spokesperson refuted the claims and said they had helped nearly 80% of staff to work from home, were implementing the Government’s social distancing rules for those at work and had given customers payment holidays before it was a regulatory requirement.
The spokesperson said: “Provident Financial has had three colleagues who have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Bradford office, since the pandemic started.
“Prior to lockdown colleagues were asked to work from home where possible, and social distancing rules were implemented for key workers coming into the Bradford office.
“Once an individual tests positive, their colleagues are informed, and those within the vicinity are given the option to self isolate, or work from home. The locality is also subjected to immediate enhanced cleaning.
“We do not recognise the comments made about social distancing within the Bradford office. Nothing is more important to us than the health of our colleagues. Measures taken to adhere to social distancing rules include: no hot desking, an enhanced cleaning regime, floor markings throughout the building to aid social distancing, signage on social distancing and hand washing, hand sanitiser throughout the building, a one way system implemented in the building, lifts split by markings with a two person maximum, and colleague work spaces separated by at least two metres.”
The company said it had staff self-isolating at home due to dependants at risk and was experiencing very low levels of colleague absence.
It also said staff had been offered furloughs where appropriate and if staff had to come into the office taxis were being provided as was free food.