Countrywide’s head office HR function has issued a letter ‘to whom it may concern’ confirming that a branch manager is a ‘key worker’, a letter that was intended to secure a place for the employee’s child at a school during the Covid lockdown.
The letter was sent this week and confirms the branch manager’s dates of employment, going on to say that “according to the Government published Coronavirus key workers [sic] list we can conform this role has been identified and that this individual is essential in the running of branches and providing essential customer services”.
It then invites the intended recipient of the letter to contact Countrywide’s head office (pictured) via email if they had any further queries, signing off as ‘HR Department, Countrywide PLC’.
The Negotiator has been shown the letter, which is printed on the company’s headed paper and, we have been assured, is genuine.
Not key workers
In April housing minister Christopher Pincher confirmed in Parliament that estate agents were not to be considered key workers.
But despite this the letter appears to getting around the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4th January that only children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people should attend school or college, and that all other pupils and students ‘will receive remote education’.
Our source says the letter is a ‘clear abuse of the critical keyworker list’ and that if agents can claim to be keyworkers, any industry’s employees could claim the status.
A company spokesperson says: “Countrywide can confirm the issuance of an open letter written to support all colleagues working and travelling through lockdown. This is to be presented to the authorities should they be stopped and questioned. This confirms the purpose of their journey and that the housing market remains open. We will be investigating the use of a second letter as a matter of urgency and will respond in due course.”