The bank has now said that 80% of staff will be working from home in hybrid ways and that the “transformation to new ways of working will begin in Q4”. We’re told that the new ways of working are a key focus for the Group Executive Committee and no doubt Charlie Nunn, the new Chief Executive, will have his own views. The bank is reluctant to commit to an exact date, which is wise given that there is increasing speculation that if the number of new COVID cases continues to increase, especially now that schools have reopened, we could face a firebreak or lockdown during the October half-term.
Whilst some members have already had one-to-one conversations about how the new ways of working will affect them, many have had no conversations at all. The bank has said: “please try to have these conversations by the end of September [bank bold]”.
We’ve said before that the bank should set out its hybrid working proposals now rather than waiting until the last minute in Q4. Moreover, it’s important that those proposals apply equally to all staff across the Lloyds Banking Group and give staff the same rights regardless of where they work. We will be monitoring the position very closely. There are already early reports of some areas telling staff they must all return to work and that working from home will be by exception. That kind of generic approach is unacceptable.
We’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating that the bank’s hybrid working model must include the following:
- Staff should have the option to spend up to 3 days a week working from home if they want.
- Staff should have the option to work from local offices or hubs rather than being required to work from their pre-pandemic place of employment on those days they are not working from home.
- A commitment to maintain current salary levels and not use the fact that staff are working from home – for up to 3 days a week – as an opportunity to reduce salary levels over time. In most cases their salaries are driven by costs where they live as much as where they work.
- A commitment not to use surveillance tools to monitor Lloyds staff whilst working from home. In our most recent survey, 89% of staff said that their line managers trusted them to work remotely from home. After the summer holidays, when voluntarism ends, line management behaviours may change and trust levels may begin to decline.
- Where jobs are not location-dependent e.g. some network jobs, the bank should remove locations from internal job adverts with immediate effect. Given that geography is no longer a factor regarding where many staff can work, such a move would open up career opportunities to those staff who can’t apply for roles currently because they don’t live within commutable distance of the bank’s main locations.
Don’t Take It On Trust
We’ve lost count of the times over the years when members have told us that they had verbal agreements with their managers on working hours or start and finish times that have gone wrong. Verbal agreements are worthless. Managers change or get overruled by their bosses all the time. Meanwhile the members may have compromised their contractual positions.
A good illustration of the dangers comes from recent cases in TSB where people were given the clear impression by their managers that they could try new jobs and then, if they thought the jobs were unsuitable, they could opt for voluntary severance instead. So far as anyone can tell, their managers were acting in good faith but TSB was so alarmed by the number of staff opting for severance that it pulled the plug on further severance requests, leaving the people concerned high and dry. Significantly, none of the members sought our advice first. Had they done so they would have got written guarantees before they held back from severance.
The same sort of risks on working hours exist in Lloyds.
So, it’s important that members get a clear understanding of the hours they are being asked to work and where they are being asked to work from Q4 onwards. We urge members to confirm those new working arrangements in writing, to avoid future disagreements over what’s been agreed.
We’ll be surveying members on the bank’s proposals once they become clearer. In the meantime, members with any questions on this newsletter should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).
No Sales Push
We are aware that members in the retail bank have been told that all bereavement interviews are now being recorded for training and monitoring purposes. Staff are concerned that any monitoring undertaken by the bank will be around ensuring that interviews with customers are focused only on identifying potential sales opportunities. That would be entirely wrong.
Whilst we understand that recording such calls can protect members, the bank should make it clear that bereavement interviews need to be dealt with sensitively and that there should be no sales push. Members who feel pressurised to push sales in these interviews should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 immediately.