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Almac 'wouldn't let some staff work remotely after positive test for coronavirus', claims employee

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Pharmaceutical giant Almac has said it is following Public Health Agency guidelines after claims that the firm refused staff requests to work from home when an employee tested positive for coronavirus.  (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Pharmaceutical giant Almac has said it is following Public Health Agency guidelines after claims that the firm refused staff requests to work from home when an employee tested positive for coronavirus. (Fiona Hanson/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Pharmaceutical giant Almac has said it is following Public Health Agency guidelines after claims that the firm refused staff requests to work from home when an employee tested positive for coronavirus. (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Pharmaceutical giant Almac has said it is following Public Health Agency guidelines after claims that the firm refused staff requests to work from home when an employee tested positive for coronavirus.

In an email, an employee claimed there were also 10 staff in self-isolation - but Almac were "forcing 2,500 people on site every day with no regards for family members with underlying health issues".

The email also claimed there are "many roles within the company that can be done from home via a laptop" but Almac was unwilling to do this.

However, Almac said it had followed public health guidelines and it currently had a "significant number" of staff members working from home.

It added that since February it had taken "a number of actions to greatly increase hygiene measures across all our locations, including increased frequency of cleaning of touchpoints right across the campus, best-practice hygiene awareness messaging for staff, reduction in large gatherings and travel restrictions".

"All of this has been done to reduce the risk across our sites for staff whilst maintaining business continuity. Our actions in this regard are under constant review," a spokesperson added.

"Almac currently has a significant number of staff members working from home. As part of our ongoing review we will be considering the elevation of our continuity plan and widening this as is necessary."

Meanwhile, banks here have said business has not been affected by the coronavirus yet but they have contingency plans in place in the event of disruption.

Bank of Ireland UK said: "We have provided guidance, in line with WHO and UK Public Health Authority's recommendations, for all our colleagues.

"This includes guidance on protective healthcare and travel advice. We also have the appropriate hygiene and cleaning procedures deployed across all our branches and offices."

AIB said it was also monitoring, scenario-planning and preparing for the potential impact from the coronavirus.

"We have communicated best-practice recommendations to our staff and we are putting protections in place to minimise any potential impact on our customers and our staff," a spokesperson said. "Cleaning has been increased in branches and offices, particularly on touchpoints (handrails, call buttons for lifts, etc.) and public areas to protect our customers."

PwC said it had not asked staff to work from home yet. A spokesperson said: "The welfare of our people is our top priority and we are closely monitoring the situation and regularly updating the guidance we provide to our people."

Belfast Telegraph