Lloyds Banking Group is wrong to instruct staff to turn off the Government’s Track and Trace app whilst at work and Antonio Horta-Osorio, the Group Chief Executive, needs to look at this issue again, quickly.
The bank says: “You must ensure contact tracing is paused (by unselecting ‘contact tracing’ in the app) while you are at work”. In response to a question on why employees in so-called COVID secure workplaces still need to use the app, the Government says: “Every person who downloads the NHS COVID-19 app will be helping in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19). The app will help the NHS understand where and how quickly the virus is spreading, so we can respond quickly and effectively. The app helps the NHS track the virus, not individuals”. Whether staff download the app is of course a personal decision; we would encourage them to do so.
We know the bank’s policy is that smartphones should be stored in lockers whilst staff are working in branches or offices. In normal times, that’s the right policy, although we are aware that in some branches line managers have cited the security advantages of staff having smartphones with them, especially the ability to take images. But we are not living in normal times and the bank should follow the spirit of the Government’s guidelines, instead of always looking for opt outs, and allow staff to have their smartphone with them whilst they are at work. In response to another question on the NHS website, the Government says: “If your employer’s policy is to store phones whilst you’re at work, you should speak to your employer to see if they will review their policy on storing phones”. So, on behalf of our members we are asking you directly, Mr Horta-Osorio, to allow your staff to help the NHS and the public the bank serves, by having their smartphones with them at all times.
Following a public outcry, police officers in England and Wales were told that they could download the NHS COVID-19 app on to their personal smartphones and use them at work. The Police Federation said: “We view the app as a key part of the public campaign to contain the virus”. If police officers can use it at work, then so should Lloyds staff.
The bank may seek to argue that staff in branches are working behind Perspex screens and exempt from using the app whilst at work. However, the reality in many branches is quite different. There are thousands of staff doing the welcome role, monitoring doors and helping with ATM and IDM machines who come into contact with large volumes of customers on a daily basis. Those staff are not behind Perspex screens. And many of those staff behind Perspex screens, may be called upon to help out their colleagues in the front of the branch at any time. We also know that many customers are either not wearing face coverings because they have exemptions or are fraudulently claiming exemptions. A member of staff could be exposed to contact with someone who later proves to be Covid positive but won’t know because the NHS app is not being utilised by the bank. Equally, a customer who speaks to a member of Lloyds staff who later turns out to be infected would want to be notified. We all would, that’s why 14 million of us have downloaded the app.
If Lloyds doesn’t change its position, we will write to Public Health England, Public Health Wales and Public Health Scotland. We will also write to MPs and key stakeholders.
The bank should do the right thing, now.
Members with any questions on this should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).