Royal Mail is experiencing staff absence rates around twice pre-pandemic levels, with many employees off because of stress or Covid-19, it has been reported.
A source told the BBC that the situation at many depots was “horrific” due to sickness and high levels of demand during the peak festive season.
The source said this festive season had been “much worse than a normal Christmas”, with sickness levels “around twice the normal levels”.
The Royal Mail website lists 21 delivery offices that are experiencing delays out of 1,200 across the UK, which the source said were places where the situation was “undeniably bad”. They said delays persisted across the entire country.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Deliveries are operating as normal across most of the country. We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week. In a small number of local offices this may temporarily not be possible due to local issues such as Covid-related self-isolation, high levels of sick absence, resourcing or other local factors. In those cases, we will rotate deliveries to minimise the delay to individual customers.
“We also provide targeted support to those offices to address their challenges and restore our service to the high standard our customers would normally receive.”
Although the company has said it would offer permanent contracts to the thousands of workers who joined Royal Mail on temporary basis, the Communication Workers Union has said increased demand has been “very difficult” for workers.
Deputy general secretary of postal, Terry Pullinger, said: “Trying to maintain a great public service throughout the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for everybody, especially whilst deploying major changes and considering the great annual challenge of the Christmas period pressure.”
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