Tomorrow morning Managers will receive a lengthy guide on decompressing working hours and will be asked to take part in concerted attempts to pressurise staff to decompress their working hours.

Key messages are going to be:

  • Every 3 months managers are to press staff on compressed hours pushing them to give up those hours ‘voluntarily’ with the aim of achieving decompression in 12 months.
  • One-to-one meetings should be held by the end of August.
  • Staff who decline will not get new posts or promotion unless they decompress their hours.
  • Staff with disabilities/medical conditions that require compression will be exempted from the drive to decompress.

The Usual Weak Arguments

In many jobs, in many businesses, offering staff compressed hours working would make no economic sense because it is likely to bring with it increased costs or complexity of management.

But in some areas compressed hours have no real adverse effects and Lloyds non-branch functions have many jobs where compression has no discernible adverse effect on the business.

Lloyds has therefore resorted to trotting out the usual weak, embarrassingly so, arguments to justify the change:

  • It will be fairer to treat all staff in the same way – we’ve had no feedback from staff working traditional patterns clamouring for people who opted for compressed hours to lose them and neither of course has Lloyds. This argument is pathetically weak.
  • A third of line managers are alleged to have said that compressed hours affect their ability to manage. Really? But this of course suggests that 2/3 of line managers don’t see a problem; so why press everyone on compressed hours to give up the facility the bank gave them quite voluntarily?
  • Another argument we’ve seen around making flexibility sustainable has been communicated in such poor English that it is hard to fathom what it means. However, it appears to be that for the bank to meet its objectives, change on working hours is needed. Can any of the bank’s Executive explain that entirely unsubstantiated assertion? We don’t think so.

The Grand Old Duke of Gresham Street

Having offered staff the ability to work compressed hours, a far-sighted move, Lloyds led many staff up to the top of the hill. Those staff took the bank at its word and started to construct their lives around the new circumstances.

Having done that, the new top management team is attempting to lead the same staff down the hill again with barely any concern for the dislocation the change would bring to people whose lives now revolve around their new hours.

It is true that Lloyds was careful to preserve its legal right to withdraw compressed hours if compression no longer suited the business and no prudent manager would have done otherwise.

But Lloyds is going further, withdrawing compressed hours (where people cave in to the pressure) on what is nothing more than a whim. If 2/3 of line manager experience no problems with compressed hours, why try to force through decompression rather than review each area of the bank calmly and logically?

The answer to that rhetorical question is of course that we are dealing with a new wave of macho management presumably trying to earn Brownie points outside the bank. The lack of any clear imperative for change supports that perception.

What To Do

1. Speak to us before you have one-to-one meeting if you are concerned about being forced to decompress your hours.

2. If you have registered your case with us already we will have advised you and we suggest you follow that advice. If you are in doubt please contact us again on 01234 262868.

3. Many members have clear contractual rights or rights that revolve around medical issues. If you are in doubt here please ask us before you have a one-to-one meeting.

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