July 2021

Welcome to our members’ newsround for July. 

We’ve continued our regular dialogue with TSB on a wide range of issues which effect your working life in the bank. Here’s a brief round-up of the news...
Lifting restrictions
Most of England’s remaining coronavirus restrictions were lifted yesterday. And since the UK Prime Minister announced these plans on 12th July, we’ve been in discussions with TSB to ensure you’re kept safe at work.

The bank says that colleagues’ wellbeing and safety are its priority and it understands that this is an anxious time - particularly given the rising infection rates.

TSB say colleagues’ concerns will be listened to and the bank will continue to work closely with Accord and Unite to gain feedback and insights, and to share good practice. There’ll be no rush to remove all current practices.

And although it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings, branch staff can continue to wear them if they choose to. Customers may also choose to continue wearing face coverings, whilst others will feel safe not to. However, masks will still be required for customers and colleagues during interviews.
The Branch Banking Director, Carol Anderson, confirmed that communications outlining the banks’ plans have been sent to all branch staff and managers. Below is a summary of the updated approach in branches in England which came into effect yesterday (19th July):

Social distancing:
  • Need removed with effect from 19th July
  • Remove posters referencing maximum number of people allowed in
  • 1m floor stickers can be left in place at the moment
  • Hands – face – space posters should remain for the time being (review again in August)
Face coverings
  • No longer a legal requirement with effect from 19th July
  • An appropriate approach to be agreed at a local level
  • So far the UK government have specifically called out public transport and crowded indoor public spaces - where they would expect the public to wear face coverings
TSB is recommending that branch staff take a lateral flow test twice weekly in order to keep both staff and customers safe. 

There are no expectations that non-branch staff should return to the office yet. If working from an office location there are no changes, staff should continue to wear face coverings when moving around offices and should continue to observe social distancing.

PPE will continue to be provided across the business.

For colleagues in Scotland and Wales, there are no changes to social distancing or face coverings rules as of yet. The guidance continues to be working from home where possible.

There’ll be ongoing updates from the home nations and the bank will continue to monitor and make necessary adjustments. You’ll be kept up to date as and when changes are made.

We’ll also continue to meet regularly with TSB’s senior leadership teams to discuss member feedback, address any concerns and share good practice from other organisations and government advisory boards as they happen.

We'd welcome your feedback on this - please email [email protected]
Staffing issues
Concerns about staffing levels are increasing and, in some areas, shortages are taking their toll on health and well-being.

With the predicted rise in infections and increase of those being required to self-isolate, coupled with the arrival of the holiday season, it is a genuine worry that resourcing is only going to get tighter and more difficult to manage.

The bank is aware of this and confirms that it responds to staff shortages, arranges support and encourages quick testing. It also has flexibility with opening hours and has closed branches on a short-term basis when necessary.

Alongside this, TSB is recruiting new staff. The recent increase in starting salaries should help with attraction. 
Abusive customers
We’re hearing reports that the instances and the level of abuse from customers is increasing. This is not ‘part of the job’ and we’re asking the bank to have a zero tolerance policy and to close the accounts of customers who threaten or abuse staff.

We’ve been speaking to TSB about how we can work together to improve support for colleagues and we’re also supporting the Customer Services Institute in lobbying government for the creation of a standalone criminal offence for the abuse of retail workers (including bank staff).

We’d welcome your feedback on this matter. Please email [email protected]
Long Covid
On the 20th June the TUC launched its report looking at the impact of long Covid on workers. Details of the report can be found here.

We’re still learning about long Covid but know it will have a real and sustained impact on workers and that the number of workers who have it for longer than a year is likely to increase from the 385,000 cases we know of so far.

To address this the TUC is calling on the government to recognise long Covid as a disability under the Equality Act, and to ensure there is a right to compensation for anyone who contracts long Covid through work. You can show your support by signing this Megaphone petition and sharing it with the members in your workplace.

If you don’t know much about long covid, check out our help centre article for more information.

Like the TUC, Accord believes that long Covid-19 should be specified in law as a disability. We’ve started talks with TSB about its approach to long Covid and how the bank will support this in its health and wellbeing policies.

It's early days and not enough is known yet, but we’d like TSB to lead from the front and recognise it as a disability so that long Covid related leave is recorded separately from sick leave, recognising that some workers who have long Covid may have different and higher forms of sickness absence.
BWC: Understanding grief & supporting bereaved colleagues webinar

On Friday 6th August, we're teaming up with the Bank Workers Charity for a webinar to explore grief and supporting those who are bereaved. We'll cover:

  • What grief is, and the different ways it affects people
  • What you can do and say to be supportive
  • The well-meaning but unhelpful things to avoid doing or saying

This one-hour event will be hosted by Accord through the Microsoft Teams platform. The session will start at 11:05am but participants are encouraged to join a few minutes before.

Unable to attend? Register to receive the recording.

Book your place
BWC: Managing anxiety in the "new normal"
After many months of lockdowns and measures in place, it’s no wonder some of us are feeling anxious as we navigate into the ”new normal”. Feeling uneasy about things changing again isn’t unusual.
The Bank Workers Charity (BWC) recently conducted a poll asking you what you felt most anxious about as we draw closer to the lifting of restrictions. Based on their findings, BWC have shared some tips to help reduce anxious thoughts and put your mind at ease over the coming weeks.
  • Find routine where you can – Take small steps to slowly build your routine again. Whilst some of your routine may remain the same, we’ve also developed new habits during the pandemic. Allowing yourself to have a flexible routine will give you a sense of control over your day, so figure out what the non-negotiables are, and plan what you’d like to do with the rest of your time.
  • Plan ahead – Prepare for the moments that make you feel anxious. Think about the things you can do to help ease your concerns, you could travel at a quieter time or opt for less busy areas when going out. You’ll soon become more comfortable and confident in what you’re doing.
  • Reframe unhelpful thoughts - Learn to recognise intrusive thoughts. Many of us don’t realise that we can influence this process, so challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. In time and with practice, you’ll begin to see perceived problems from a different perspective and help break the negative cycle.
  • Make time to relax - Ensure you’re making time for self-care and relaxation. By setting aside as little as 20 minutes a day to focus on your wellbeing, you allow yourself the opportunity to reflect, re-energise and refresh your mind – essential for maintaining good health.
  • Share what’s on your mind - Talk to someone about what’s worrying you. Confiding in a friend, family member or your GP can allow them to support you in overcoming your anxieties, as well as reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Read BWC’s guide to anxiety for more advice and support. There are lots of other ways BWC can help too, so if you’re looking for support for yourself, your partner or children, call their free and confidential Helpline on 0800 0234 834, or use their Live Chat service to speak with an adviser - they’re open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm (except bank holidays).
Guide to anxiety
Linda Crouch
Head of Membership & Services TSB

07766 518 390
l[email protected]
(Available: Mon,Tue & Wed)
Ged Nichols
Accord General Secretary

07973 642 592
[email protected]
T: 0118 934 1808 | E: [email protected] | W: www.accord-myunion.org
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