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Openreach starts phased return for engineers to work inside people’s homes

Working outside first will remain a priority, the telecommunications firm says.

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Openreach said engineers have limited their time in premises since the pandemic began (Joe Giddens/PA)

Openreach said engineers have limited their time in premises since the pandemic began (Joe Giddens/PA)

Openreach said engineers have limited their time in premises since the pandemic began (Joe Giddens/PA)

Openreach is phasing in a return to working inside people’s homes for its engineers from Monday.

The BT-owned firm, which manages much of the country’s telephone cabling infrastructure, said it had made the decision after careful consideration and following guidance from Public Health England.

Telecommunication engineers are considered key workers by the Government to keep the UK connected during lockdown, with the public turning to working from home and education online where possible.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Openreach said engineers have limited their time in premises since the pandemic began, conducting the majority of tasks outside homes and businesses.

But there are some provision jobs and critical repairs which do require staff to enter a property.

It has said that working from outside first will remain the priority, only resorting to going inside if the provision or repair job is low risk and takes a short amount of time.

The move comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the Government’s “road map” for easing the coronavirus lockdown last week, encouraging those in England who were unable to work from home to return to their jobs if their workplace is open.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said it will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure no member is pressurised by their manager or the public to carry out their work where they feel unsafe.

“We understand that our members are providing a vital service to the public, keeping them connected and safe in their homes,” said Davie Bowman, CWU national officer for Openreach.

“As we move into the second stage of easing the lockdown measures we are making it very clear to our members that they should not be placed at risk by going into customers’s homes.

“As a consequence we have advised our members to assess a situation and if they feel unsafe, or if they have not been provided with the appropriate PPE, or if they cannot apply social distancing and hygiene rules, they should immediately stop work, make the site safe, leave the premises and inform their manager.”

PA