ŠKODA AUTO has been offering all employees the opportunity to be tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis since October 2020 and covers most of the costs itself. So far, tens of thousands of PCR and antigen tests have been carried out. The car manufacturer is expanding its capacities to test employees throughout the organisation regularly in line with the Czech government’s regulations. ŠKODA AUTO relies mainly on antigen self-testing in the workplace, involving tens of thousands of employees every week.
By Thursday, 11 March, ŠKODA AUTO had tested in total 28,000 employees at its three Czech sites and in Prague. Staff members who test positive using the antigen self-test then undergo a PCR test to confirm the result.
“We are ready: The vaccination centres at our Czech sites are ready to vaccinate the ŠKODA workforce against COVID-19. As soon as the vaccine becomes available, we will get started – quickly, flexibly and free of charge for all employees. I would like to thank Jaroslav Povšík for the constructive and close cooperation. Thanks to our comprehensive protective measures, only one in ten COVID-19 infections among our employees have been traced back to the work environment. This shows that it is currently safer at ŠKODA AUTO than in the surrounding area,” explains Thomas Schäfer, CEO of ŠKODA AUTO.
The company has set up several permanent testing sites in Mladá Boleslav, Kvasiny and Vrchlabí in collaboration with its social partner KOVO, helping to protect the health of its employees and their families as much as possible.
“The cooperation between the company and the union has been very close all year. Each day, we jointly address the comments we receive from the entire workforce and actively involve our staff in dealing with the pandemic. One reason we have been so successful is that we genuinely look into all the comments we receive, both negative and positive, and we are getting more and more positive feedback. We are confident that our employees will adopt this way of tackling the pandemic – based on the experience they have gained at ŠKODA AUTO as well as the habits they have acquired here – in their private and public lives. By doing so, they are doing their part to alleviate this very difficult situation in the Czech Republic,” adds Jaroslav Povšík, Chairman of the Works Council of the KOVO trade union.
At the beginning of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, ŠKODA AUTO provided its employees not only with surgical masks but also with wipes and disinfectants. In addition, FFP2 respirators were distributed among the employees from 1 March 2021 in coordination with the KOVO trade union. The company encourages its administrative staff to work remotely wherever appropriate and has set up the necessary infrastructure for this.
At the same time, ŠKODA AUTO is ready to vaccinate its employees quickly and efficiently. Since Tuesday, 3 March, employees at all three Czech plants have been able to pre-register online. During the first week, over 8,000 employees took advantage of this offer.
The company has established several vaccination centres, and the teams responsible for vaccination at ŠKODA AUTO are already supporting hospitals and other facilities around Mladá Boleslav. These teams are helping to comprehensively immunise at-risk groups. In addition, the car manufacturer is providing logistical support for the distribution of vaccines and taking people who are in at-risk groups to the vaccination centres. Vehicles from the company’s car-sharing services Uniqway and HoppyGo are also being used to transport the vaccine ampoules.
To protect the workforce, a comprehensive ‘Safe Production’ and ‘Safe Office’ concept with more than 80 individual measures remains in place. These measures include the obligation to wear face masks and a ban on smoking on all factory premises. Social distancing measures are also in force. ŠKODA AUTO is also committed to high safety standards in the canteens; employees working there are required to disinfect the entire area and their hands regularly. The safe distances are clearly indicated, and the seats at the tables are also separated by Plexiglas. Extended opening hours have been introduced in the canteens, and the range of take-away meals and vending machines has been expanded.