Edinburgh, Scotland, March 24, 2020 -- Staff the clothing retailer H&M's Edinburgh customer contact centre were told to return to work today despite coronavirus lockdown measures in place across Scotland and the UK.
Edinburgh Live understand some 400 people work at the Waverley Gate offices where H&M occupy an entire floor.
Scotland's First Minister yesterday told businesses that were "non-essential" that they should tell employees to stay at home.
Essential shops include supermarkets, other food retailers and pharmacies.
The first minister repeated the call today, telling the Scottish Parliament that businesses should do the right thing to protect their employees.
Edinburgh Live was contacted by one employee who received the text message last night.
"Janet" told us: "The Government are asking us to stay at home so it shocks me that my office is still open.
"I don't believe it is essential for us to be at work during a global pandemic, putting 400+ employees and their families at risk.
"I think they need to listen to the experts and keep everyone safe during this difficult time."
In a text message sent to staff, sent at 11:15pm on Monday evening after the Prime Minister's broadcast announcing the effective lockdown, a member of the management team at the company said:
"Edinburgh [Customer Service Centre] will open Tuesday 24th on reduced hours of 9am-6pm.
"We will continue discussion surrounding our ability to work from home and we will update you with any further decisions we recieve from the company as we get them. Apologies for the late night message."
Responding to questions from Edinburgh, a H&M representative provided the following statement: "We are committed to following guidance from local governments in the markets we operate in, and we are awaiting further guidance from the Scottish government as to whether or not our team based at our Customer Contact Centre in Edinburgh should continue to attend work during this difficult time.
"In the meantime we are continuing to trial working from home for as many members of our team as possible, and are taking additional health and safety precautions to keep our colleagues safe. These include but are not limited to:
Arranging alternative transport for colleagues that usually take public transport to work
Ensuring that social distancing is practiced at our premises, with all colleagues working at least 2m apart
Reducing opening hours at the Contact Centre
Reducing the number of colleagues permitted in meeting rooms
Providing additional cleaning products such as antibacterial wipes for colleagues to clean their work stations
Trialling working from home for as many colleagues as possible
We would like to thank all of our colleagues in our Edinburgh Contact Centre for their continued efforts during this time."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Thursday, March 26, 2020
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