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May 1, 2020

Adecco defends move as Bentley prepares restart

Employment provider, Adecco says it is acting "in accordance with both the letter and spirit" of the UK government's job retention scheme in the light of labour body, Unite's claim it prevented around 200 agency workers based at Bentley's site in Crewe being made redundant.

By Rhodri Morgan

Employment provider, Adecco says it is acting “in accordance with both the letter and spirit” of the UK government’s job retention scheme in the light of labour body, Unite’s claim it prevented around 200 agency workers based at Bentley’s site in Crewe being made redundant.

Unite maintained its “fierce intervention” reversed Adecco’s decision and the agency workers have now been put into the government’s job retention scheme on 80% of their pay, as the automaker looks to resume production on 11 May.

“Supporting our associates as best we can during this uncertain time is our absolute priority, however we must ensure we act in accordance with both the letter and spirit of the government’s job retention scheme,” said an Adecco statement sent to just-auto. “This is a brand new law and the eligibility guidelines have been constantly changing over the last few weeks.

“We originally took the decision on eligibility of associates for the scheme based on our understanding of whether their jobs would be retained and they would be returning to their assignment at Bentley once production resumes.

“We were informed 165 of the associates would be returning to their positions in the future, so we took the immediate decision this population was eligible for the scheme; because we did not have the same assurance for the remaining associates at Bentley, unfortunately we had to end their assignments.

“Subsequently, as part of our ongoing review of government guidelines on eligibility for the furlough scheme and following further correspondence with Bentley and the local MP, we took the decision to furlough all associates at Bentley.”

Bentley is introducing a set of around 250 new hygiene and social distancing measures using a system it has named: ‘Come Back Stronger’ in order to implement a safe, phased return to production at the company’s headquarters in Crewe from 11 May. The manufacturer maintains it marks the biggest change to daily working life in the company’s 100 year history.

The measures are built around seven key areas: prior to leaving home, travel, entry, preparing for work, work stations, breaks, and exiting the site and are designed to protect staff at the factory, which employs more than 4,000 people.

The key process changes impact all areas, and include a redesign of the manufacturing facility itself to allow a two-metre distance between work colleagues, and one-way movement paths and traffic flows. Facemasks will now be compulsory in all factory and office areas, while Bentley will maintain a work from home policy for those who are able to.

Personal protection equipment – including facemasks, gloves, goggles – will be provided as necessary, both to colleagues and in parallel donated to the local care sector, as well as health temperature checks for staff. There will also be an enhanced cleaning routine and clear guidance to the workforce on limiting the risk of infection on areas such as meeting governance, site access and travel.

This extends to new, stringent measures to control the population density on site at any one time. All entry and exit points have been reviewed and reconfigured to disperse the volume of people, there will be control measures in all catering facilities which limit capacity and allocated distanced seating, while office-based colleagues will work to a newly introduced shift-pattern.

This will control the workforce density on site throughout the day, with extra defences also in place such as plastic separation screens in office areas.

A return to work guide, which covers all new hygiene and social distancing measures, is being sent to the home addresses of all colleagues and is available to review on the Bentley Employee News app where an airline-style instructional video outlines the key changes to colleague working patterns.

“The time is now right for Bentley to begin a gradual and controlled return to production, while ensuring our sites are the safest place any of us can be,” said Bentley chairman and CEO, Adrian Hallmark. “Everybody will be able to play their part.”

Full production is anticipated to resume on 18 May with a later, staggered return to work for office-based colleagues and those able to work from home.

The manufacturer is using its capability to 3D print more than 30,000 face-shields and supply them to the Cheshire care sector, including all care homes, the NHS and other local community services.

Simultaneously, Bentley is donating personal protective equipment such as gloves, facemasks, safety glasses and seat covers. The company also extended its Bentley ‘Meals on 22 inch Wheels’ service, where colleagues volunteer to deliver essential items in the community.

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