Hatfield man with asthma not furloughed by DHL M&S clothing distribution centre

PUBLISHED: 18:00 19 April 2020

DHL run the warehouse for M&S online. Picture: M&S/DHL.

DHL run the warehouse for M&S online. Picture: M&S/DHL.

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DHL-run M&S clothing distribution centre in Welham Green have decided not to furlough a member of staff from Hatfield who has asthma.

A male member of staff – who asked to remain anonymous – said he is now taking all of his paid holidays in order to not risk an infection from COVID-19 in the warehouse.

He claims most of the staff at the Welham Green site have already been furloughed but cannot understand why – after showing his manager a doctor’s note – he is not getting the same treatment.

“There is an at-risk group and a severe at risk group and I’m in the at-risk group,” he told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

“I’m very anxious and I will not go back for the next weeks until my holiday runs out.”

After that, he said, it will be a choice between claiming universal credit or risking catching the virus.

DHL said they are not aware of this but are happy to talk with the man.

A female member of staff – also from Hatfield – is using holiday so she does not have to attend work.

The woman, who would also like to remain anonymous, asked her manager: “I just prepare paper work, why can I not do that at home?” but was told it was not possible.

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Another Hatfield man who works as a picker said he has stopped clapping for the NHS on Thursday at 8pm as he feels disgusted by working.

He said: “Putting out clothes is not the same as saving lives. I’m not a key worker.”

A spokeswoman for DHL said: “We are willing to work with all our colleagues as far as is reasonably possible to find good solutions for everyone, but at the end of the day we need to continue working to support the increased online shopping volumes of UK consumers while they stay at home.”

However after the Welwyn Hatfield Times covered staff claims about lack of hand sanitiser and social distancing, all three members acknowledged there have been some improvements but maintained there was still a lack of two metre space in the warehouse.

DHL said this is not true and explained that they, “carry out a daily audit with a team of SD champions, which includes our colleagues.

“The team reviews all areas of the site and feeds back daily on SD compliance. The results are then shared with the whole team.”

The logistics company also said, after claims were made by one staff member that inbound and pickers were treated differently in regards to furloughing, that there is “a higher proportion” in this area due to need.

“However, we categorically do have colleagues furloughed on the inbound function as well. As the volumes and activities change, we will continue to review which colleagues are furloughed against our required skillsets.”

The current government advise states that severe asthma sufferers would be high risk if they caught coronavirus because they have a respiratory condition.

However, the health guidance only advises shielding yourself – keeping inside at all times – if you get a government letter or if you have the kind of asthma where you take certain inhalers and need continuous or frequent oral steroids.


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