OTLEY’S MP is calling for urgent clarification over who should still be travelling to work during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) is one of 17 Yorkshire MPs who have signed a letter to the Prime Minister demanding that the Government is clearer about what does and what does not constitute an ‘essential service’.

The move was sparked by concerns that some companies, including telecommunications firms and banks, are still telling their staff to work from central offices.

The letter, led by Mr Sobel, claims that such actions are ‘in breach of the spirit of the national lockdown and a serious risk to public health during this crisis’. The MPs acknowledge that some telephone services, including those for emergency services and those that keep our telecommunications online during the pandemic, are essential.

But they also question why some services cannot be run remotely - and say there have been a number of reports of staff who do not fall into the ‘vital workers’ category being forced to travel to work.

The letter asks the Government to ‘clearly define who are and who are not key workers’, adding: ‘We do not believe that those in the telecommunications industry, other than those who deal with emergency response, should be defined as key workers’.

It goes on to say that some industry leaders need to explain why ‘they could not run operations and call centres remotely and why they had no systems in place to do so in the event of a national emergency’.

It states that: “These organisations are some of the wealthiest in the United Kingdom.

“We have seen much smaller firms, creatively redesigning their systems to allow for home working.”

Mr Sobel said: “I have received several complaints from constituents who do not believe their work to be essential. We need every organisation, large and small, to do all they can to enact the social distancing measures that have been set out by the Government.

“I do not know why these organisations have not had contingency measures in place, long before this crisis.”

MP Karl Turner (Lab, Kingston upon Hull East) added: “The Government needs to make it crystal clear exactly who should and shouldn’t be going to work.

“Despite the vast majority of businesses going above and beyond to do the right thing, a small number are unnecessarily putting lives at risk by falsely claiming key worker status. Vague advice creates a vacuum, which some seem to be exploiting.”

Under Government advice only key workers - which includes those whose jobs are deemed to be ‘critical to the Covid-19 response’ - should be currently travelling to work while everyone else who can should be working from home.