A note was sent to employees at the factory this week confirming the case and reassuring them that it was safe to continue working there.
Nestlé told Food Manufacture that it had confirmation that a member of its staff at the Halifax factory, who had not been working since the beginning of the month, had tested positive for COVID-19.
A spokeswoman confirmed that they were receiving hospital treatment and said Nestlé was in regular contact with the family. “Ensuring the health and safety of our employees, families and consumers remains our priority,” she said.
“Together with our trade unions, we are taking the responsibility for our employees seriously. Following the advice from the Government and Public Health England, only our key workers are working from our factories to ensure we maintain supply, all other employees are working from home.
“We are also working with our agency and contractors to ensure they are also prioritising their peoples’ safety and following Government and Public Health England guidelines.
Nestlé said the health of its people is of the “upmost importance” and it had taken every measure possible to ensure its workplaces are safe. It said it had required social distancing for many weeks and had installed screens where needed to help stop the virus spreading.
“The Government recognises that food and drink is absolutely vital during these uncertain times – not only for keeping us healthy and maintaining a sense of normality, but for keeping the country going in the weeks ahead,” the spokeswoman added.
Several food processing sectors face unrest from workers concerned about staff welfare amidst the pandemic in relation to aspects such as lack of personal protective equipment, imperfect social distancing measures and basic sick and furlough pay. They include Bakkavor, 2 Sisters, Greencore, Moy Park and ABP.
Meanwhile, coronavirus’ threat to food industry workers has triggered one trade union to press the six top grocery retailers put staff before profit, accusing a major supplier of foregoing social distancing guidance and scrimping on pay.
A letter from the union – sent to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Aldi – called out suppliers for allegedly refusing to pay essential workers full pay if they were absent due to the coronavirus.