Former Portsmouth Covid test site worker left 'anxious' demanding £1,300 from employer Sodexo

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A FORMER Covid test site worker demanding £1,300 in wages from his employer has been left feeling ‘vulnerable’ and ‘anxious’.

Gosport resident Alan Williams took on a job at the walk-in test centre in the university’s Eldon building car park in Portsmouth last year.

The former homeless charity supporter worker said he ‘gave his all’ to the job, sometimes working more than 50 hours a week to meet demand.

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Some 500 people a week had been attending the Sodexo-run site at the height of the pandemic.

Alan Williams at his home in Gosport. Picture: Habibur RahmanAlan Williams at his home in Gosport. Picture: Habibur Rahman
Alan Williams at his home in Gosport. Picture: Habibur Rahman
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However, 40-year-old Alan was dealt a blow in February when he started experiencing bad joint pain and fatigue leaving him unable to work.

He was diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, causing calcium levels in the blood to rise. In severe cases this can lead to kidney failure, strokes and cardiac arrhythmias.

Alan was given medication to control the symptoms and put on a list for surgery to remove his parathyroid glands.

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The Covid test site in the Eldon Building car park in Portsmouth.
Picture: Duncan ShepherdThe Covid test site in the Eldon Building car park in Portsmouth.
Picture: Duncan Shepherd
The Covid test site in the Eldon Building car park in Portsmouth. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

At this time he received statutory sick pay from Sodexo but said this ended when he was declared fit to return a few weeks later.

He said Sodexo told him to see occupational health before he could return – but this did not happen for three weeks – leaning him feeling forced to quit.

In that period he missed out on £1,300 in wages. The statutory sick pay for that period would have been £288 – but he got neither.

Alan said: ‘I had a medical report to say I was fit for work but Sodexo wouldn’t let me work until I saw occupational health.

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‘That would have been fine but occupational health never got in touch. I kept contacting the company about it and I heard nothing.

‘This went on for three weeks and I wasn’t being paid sick pay or wages.

‘All the while my bills like council tax were piling up but I had no income.’

In the end Alan said he was ‘forced’ to give up the job and is now on universal credit.

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‘I am actively looking for any other work I can do but I shouldn’t have needed to.

‘I just feel so let down when I worked so hard for the company, all through the pandemic.

‘We all worked really hard at the test site. You’d get really sick people coming in every day and we were putting ourselves at risk.’

Alan is hoping to receive some back pay as well as his P45. He has sought advice from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

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As reported, Sodexo faced a backlash when six staff members at the Eldon Building site were let go ‘without any chance of appeal’ after having taken a coronavirus test at the site before Christmas in breach of their agreements.

On Alan’s case, a spokesman said: ‘While we are unable to comment on individual colleagues due to reasons of confidentiality, I would like to make clear how seriously we take the health and wellbeing of all our people, no matter what their role, or the nature of the site on which they work.

‘We strive to ensure the health of all our employees is not impacted in any way through a number of processes, including occupational health, and assess all situations on a case by case basis.’

Alan left Sodexo in early May.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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