Following the Union’s Newsletter yesterday – “What About Branch Staff” – the bank has issued further guidance to branches on COVID-19 today, which is a small step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough in protecting staff and customers. Let’s forget about “Helping Britain Prosper” for the time being and focus more on “Helping Britain Survive”, especially those elderly and vulnerable customers.

Jo Harris, Managing Director of Lloyds Community Bank, has said that proactive reaching out to customers via CINS leads should stop immediately. That’s the right move now but it should have stopped last week. However, she’s then said that all those appointments that are already booked in diaries can go ahead if it’s safe and prudent to do so. Who determines whether it’s safe or prudent? Branch staff are not clinicians but they are being asked to determine if it’s safe for customers to leave their homes to visit branches? The Government’s suppression strategy is about reducing contact rates through social distancing not encouraging them. And can you have social distancing in a branch environment? Moreover, there will some customers and, to be honest, staff for that matter who may be asymptomatic (a person with the virus who shows no symptoms) so the bank should not be asking customers to visit branches for appointments. All customer interviews that are booked in should be cancelled immediately. To allow such interviews to continue is not acting in the best interest of the wider community. And let’s be clear, there is nothing being discussed in these interviews that’s more important than the safety of customers and staff. For the same reason, the bank should also consider stopping the use of its mobile branches.

Ms Harris should read the research published by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, and then do the right thing quickly.

Members with any questions on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

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