The UK Government’s classification of many banking roles as critical sends a clear message that it wants as many banking branches/contact centres/operational centres to be open as possible throughout this crisis. Even in Italy, which is now the global epicentre of COVID-19, essential services such as supermarkets, grocers, pharmacies and banks continue to operate. It’s the same in all other countries. However, if Lloyds is to continue to play its part in this national effort then it needs to make sure that it is doing everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff and that includes the following
- All non-essential interviews with customers should be stopped immediately. The only face-to-face interviews that should even be considered – applying the social distancing rules – are those related to the loan schemes recently introduced by the Chancellor to help small and medium sized business over the next few months. And even then, the bank should look at conducting those interviews by phone or online if possible. The Government is telling the public to avoid parks and other public spaces, so two people sitting in a small interview room for a few hours discussing day-to-day banking products like getting a better rate for savings or adding Club Lloyds is not social distancing and must be stopped now.
- Making sure that social distancing measures are be universally applied across the bank and that includes contact centres and operational centres. Some are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances but many are not doing anything. We know that the number of customers visiting branches has increased dramatically over the last few weeks. Many of those customers are elderly and are withdrawing large amounts of money because they believe branches are going to close and they won’t have access to their savings. For many people, it’s still a cash society. Those customers are queuing as they would normally and many branches are not insisting that the social distancing rules – stand at least 6ft apart – apply. That’s significantly increasing the risk of customers passing on the virus to each other and to members of staff. Local Directors have a responsibility to ensure that social distancing is being applied. If it’s not possible for customers to stand 6ft apart, then the branch should operate a one in, one out policy. The bank has said that this should only be done in exceptional circumstances. We agree but these are exceptional circumstances – the bank has a responsibility to protect its customers and staff so it must revisit this issue again and send stronger guidance out to branches on this important issue.
- Ensuring that iPads are safe to use. The use of iPads in branches is an issue that is coming up all the time. Staff are rightly concerned that the use of iPads is a possible source of infection both for customers and themselves and they are trying everything possible to mitigate those risks. But more importantly, how is it possible to apply the social distancing rules if staff are expected to help customers use the iPad? The bank needs to revisit its guidance on this issue. If it’s not possible to use iPads safely, then branches should be able to withdraw them altogether.
- Members are also reporting a significant increase in the number of customers being referred to branches by the Fraud Department. Those customers have had their transactions/cards blocked. When branch staff refer customers to the Fraud Department via the telephone, they insist on a branch staff member being involved in those conversations and that means constantly passing the telephone between the member of staff and the customer. It’s not always possible (and it’s always going to be awkward) to wipe a phone whilst it’s being passed around and it’s just another source of infection for staff and customers. The bank needs to find a new way to deal with this.
Members with any issues they would like us to deal with on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 282868 (choose Option 1) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.