REGIONAL utilities company Electricity North West has won praise from the government for giving all its staff paid time off to be vaccinated.

This is part of a range of measures undertaken by the company and others like it to support the government's coronavirus vaccination programme, which business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has described as "awe-inspiring."

Electricity North West says that any employee who is invited to have the vaccine can take time off work in company time, at short notice and on full pay.

Chief executive Peter Emery said: “I’m proud of how all my colleagues have stepped up to keep the region connected and provide an essential service throughout the pandemic. I cannot thank them enough for all that they do.

“As we hopefully are moving into a recovery stage of this pandemic, it’s vital that we repay their support by making it as easy as possible for them to have the vaccine.

“We also hope that providing access to testing will bring added peace of mind and reassurance for our key worker colleagues on the front line and further reassures all our customers of the steps we are taking to ensure their safety.”

Meanwhile, the company says that it is also offering rapid lateral flow testing to all employees who can’t work from home to support the test and trace programme.

Workers can take the tests before they head to work or following a shift and have results in 30 minutes.

Classified as an essential service, Electricity North West has continued to operate throughout the pandemic in order to ensure that homes, businesses and the NHS are supplied with electricity and to ensure that the network keeps running.

Engineers have also undertaken major projects including supporting the creation of Manchester’s NHS Nightingale Hospital and carried out vital work to increase the electricity supply to Oaklands Hospital in Salford.