CLAIMS have been made against a company in Ilminster saying it is no longer looking after the welfare of its staff.

Your Chard & Ilminster News has been told Gooch & Housego PLC (G&H) are "ignoring individual concerns" about shift patters and are not allowing the Track & Trace app to be switched on at work.

This photonics technology business in Ilminster have recently moved from a single shift system to a two-shift operation.

This means many workers are having to start at 6am on the early shift and finish at 10.30am on the late shift.

The company have said this has benefits to the workers, by reducing hours worked on a given day and maintaining consistent daily hours throughout the week.

But workers - especially those with young children or who care for the elderly - are finding the changes difficult.

We have received claims that workers are being told "if they do not like it, they can always find another job".

And we have also been told there is no compromise from G&H to understand individual circumstances of staff members.

But the company has said all affected staff groups were consulted over a number of weeks about the changes, and that staff are encouraged to report any issues through the employee works council or through the management chain.

"All concerns will be taken seriously and we aim to work with our staff to find a suitable resolution," said a spokesperson for G&H.

"We have the highest regard for our staff’s safety and welfare.

"An example of this would be our partnership with Mind Somerset and the use of our established mental health first aiders and Employee Assistance Programmes to provide additional support to our staff over the pandemic."

We have been told workers are asked not to switch on their Track & Trace apps just incase they are asked to self-isolate.

G&H has confirmed this, but say the app "has been recognised not to be appropriate or suitable for operation in the manufacturing areas."

"This is wholly compliant within the NHS guidelines for pausing the contract tracing," added the spokesperson for G&H.

"We are delighted to report that we have had no Covid cases on site where staff have been infected due to work.

"In line with our policies, those who have been impacted directly by Covid-19 have been provided full pay until they are deemed fit and safe to return to work.

"Those who are able to work from home, continue to do so whilst we move toward a more permanent flexible working policy in line with government guidelines.

"G&H are classed as key workers within the government’s framework and we have maintained full employment levels throughout the pandemic.

"We continue to invest in staff, by recruiting talent whilst partnering with the local colleges with apprenticeship schemes and provide ongoing flexible home learning to meet the changing landscape placed on us by Covid-19."