A special edition COVID-19 update has been issued to Accord members who work in Lloyds Banking Group.
This latest update focuses the changing measures in the branch network including defining 'meaningful work' that can be undertaken outside of public opening hours. This edition also covers a number of items for homeworkers and those working in large sites.
Since our last all-member newsletter, an interim update was sent to our branch-based members on 6th November covering changes to opening hours, working patterns, travel between branches and face to face interviewing.
And on 11th November we held our first digital conference – celebrating our 40th birthday.
We had contributions from senior figures in Lloyds Banking Group and TSB as well as the TUC – and a bit of fun too.
You’ll be able to read more about it in My Accord magazine that will be available shortly. We’ll also be providing more information about the union’s objectives that have been set for 2021 and 2022 on our website too.
We’ve continued to hold regular sessions with LBG’s business leaders, discussing topics that matter most to you.
We’re engaging with the Commercial Bank, Group Customer Services, Insurance & Wealth, Group Transformation and, of course, the leadership of the branch network.
Here’s our latest round-up:
News for all members...
Equality, diversity & inclusion
Click here for our equality group’s November round up. If you’re Interested in driving our equality, diversity and inclusion work forward, why not join our group and get involved? Email [email protected]
Clinically extremely vulnerable
We’ve had some queries from clinically extremely vulnerable members who weren’t sure if they still had to go to work during the lockdown in England. The government advice changed from 5th November and you can read it here. As you’ll see, if you’re in this category (you should have received a letter from the NHS or your GP telling you this) then you’re strongly advised to work from home. If you can’t work from home, you should not attend work for the period of restrictions.
We think the bank’s new wellbeing support guide is great - it includes everything that’s available to you in one document. You can download a copy here.
Health & safety – working together to make things simpler
We’ve been working with the Group Health & Safety team to make life easier for colleagues to report accidents, incidents and illnesses, using a new online system.
Our joint work continues with a new process to maintain workstation comfort for your short and long term health. And to get the advice and support you need. You no longer need to complete an annual DSE assessment. Instead, you’ll use the ‘ensuring comfort at your workstation’ guide to set up your workstation correctly and trouble shoot any discomfort.
Lifting, carrying and handling training has also been refreshed. If you have to complete this training annually, you can do it when it’s normally due or undertake it earlier if you prefer. The training has two routes; one for colleagues who do manual handling and one for managers and health and safety designated colleagues who complete LCH risk assessments.
And there’s more to come. All LBG’s guidance will be simplified, risk assessments and logs will be streamlined and put online and all in one place – making it easier for you to find the guidance you need. We’re pleased to be working with your employer on these important improvements and welcome any input from members. Email [email protected], subject heading “Health & Safety Simplification”.
Grievance and harassment policy
We’re about to start work on transforming the grievance and harassment policy. The key principles are aimed at:
- making the policy more colleague centric
- reviewing the look, tone and feel of the guidance to ensure trust and confidence for all colleagues in the policy
- simplifying the procedural elements so the emphasis is on resolving the grievance effectively
- Building capability for hearing managers
If you’ve had any experience of the current grievance and harassment policy and and want to input into the review, send your comments to [email protected] heading your email “grievance and harassment policy”.
Reports of scam calls jumped by nearly 60% last month compared with April as criminals continue to exploit the coronavirus pandemic. Advice on how to stay safe from scam calls is available from the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign. Worth a visit to this helpful website to supplement the guidance provided by LBG as your employer.Branch update Site update Homeworker update
If you work in a branch...
Meaningful work – what does that really mean?
Thanks to all of you who took the trouble to reply to update #20. We shared your feedback (anonymously) with business leaders.
We told them some of the daft things you were being asked to do after closing time, like:
- Vacuuming and cleaning the branch
- Staying until 5pm even if you had no appointments and no other work to complete
- Reading the colleague framework page by page to fill time
- Attending check-ins at the end of the day when they could have been accommodated earlier
- Role playing for the sake of filling time after branch closing
None of which seemed like ‘meaningful work’ to you or to us. And they agreed. So, the guidance for managers on meaningful work and diary management has been updated and they’ve briefed ADs and Mortgage leadership teams.
The briefing confirmed that:
- Colleague health and safety is paramount
- The potential for exposure to the virus must be minimised
- Colleagues in Category B and C branches should not be kept in work unnecessarily
- A meaningful service must be provided to customers when they need it
What does this mean?
Colleague health and safety is paramount: all colleagues should continue to follow the colleague framework guidance to ensure their own health and safety and that of their colleagues and customers. Social distancing, wearing face coverings and correct sanitisation is critical. It includes following the same guidance at external meeting points, during break times and when the branch is closed. Colleagues must be provided with a minimum break of 10 minutes for every 2 hours of continual wearing of face coverings.
Managers have been reminded. And we must remind you too:
It’s absolutely vital that you follow these rules all of the time. We’ve been made aware of a couple of outbreaks in branches which have been traced back to colleagues who have become too relaxed in the way they’ve been interacting with each other (e.g. during lunch breaks). Don’t put yourself or your colleagues at risk. Follow the rules: Hands, face, space.
We’ve been consulted on the content of a daily team talk on ‘keeping you safe’ that reinforces the guidance and reminds you of some of the common situations where it’s important to socially distance. If you haven’t had your team talk yet and you’re worried that people are letting their guard down, get in touch and we’ll help get things back on track. Call the officer who covers your branch – details at the end of this update.
Minimise potential for exposure to the virus: the business is changing the way diaries are to be managed to reduce the manual workarounds which currently require colleagues to engage with each other to book appointments. And they’ll continue to follow the restrictions categories guidance.
Avoid colleagues remaining in work unnecessarily in Category B and C branches: They’ve amended the guidance around meaningful work to ensure colleagues are supported to leave the branch as soon as possible in Category B and C branches. They’ve reiterated that colleagues will not have to work back the hours, reduce lunch breaks, take holiday or unpaid leave when leaving early in line with the Group’s commitment to full pay.
Of course you may be asked to be as flexible as possible to support the business at this most difficult time – that’s fair enough – we get that. Just as you’d expect the business to be flexible if you needed to change your hours for any reason. But you can only do what you can do. If you can’t amend your hours then the commitment to full pay applies and you shouldn’t be penalised by being asked to work back the hours, take unpaid leave, reduce your lunch break or take holiday.
Your Area Directors and mortgage leadership teams have been reminded and this message should have been cascaded by now. So, there’s no reason why you should still be having problems. But if you are and you can’t sort things out locally get in touch with us by calling the officer who covers your workplace (details at the end of this update).
Provide a meaningful service to our customers when they need us: Opening hours will continue to be reviewed on a case by case basis and the risks to colleagues will remain the driver of any decisions made.
We’re pleased with the way the business has reacted to your concerns. It’s proof that a strong voice in the workplace can get things changed. Again, thanks to those of you who took the trouble to send in your experiences. You’ve helped make things better for everyone.
MaPAs – evolving ways of working
We’ve been briefed on next steps in the evolving ways of working in Mortgages. All MaPAs will have a 1:1 between 16th – 30th November to talk about working hours/patterns, agile locations and some test and learn experiments. Once you’ve had your 1:1, if you have any queries or concerns that you can’t resolve locally get in touch with the officer who covers your branch – details at the end of this update. We know how unsettling change can be – especially during the pandemic – and we’re here to help you through the evolving ways of working piece. Pick up the phone or drop us an email.
At the start of the pandemic, we negotiated an agreement for our on-call members that offered them a temporary contract variation that increased the number of contracted hours in line with the average monthly hours worked over the previous 12 months, up to a maximum of 55 hours per month, without which they’d only be entitled to 15 hours pay per month. That agreement ended on 31st October.
From 9th November, Accord’s fabulous workplace reps were involved in another round of risk assessments. If you don’t have a workplace rep so had no worker representation when yours was done, why not think about offering to take on the role yourself? We’ve got the digital tools to get you up and running really quickly and you’ll be fully supported by our network of reps and paid officials.
Conducting risk assessments during the pandemic is crucial to keeping you and your work mates safe. If you’re interested in stepping up to the challenge, get in touch with [email protected]
Since then, we’ve heard from on-call members that they’re struggling financially as they’re not required to work so often now that opening hours have reduced in so many branches. This is also having an impact on their choice of flex benefits as their salary falls below the national minimum wage and for some that can have serious consequences (those using BUPA, for example).
We’ve asked the business to review the way it’s using on-call staff and to consider an extension of the previous agreement to prevent colleagues from suffering financial hardship. A meeting is planned next week. If you’re an on-call member experiencing difficulties as a result of a reduction in working hours, send your concerns to [email protected] headed “On-call staff”.
One of the questions put to Russell Galley at our conference earlier this month was on the future of the branch network. Will there be branch closures and will branch staff still have jobs post-COVID?
We’re working on getting the full recording of that session to you, but in the meantime we’ve asked Russell and his team to engage fully with us on any emerging thinking.
We know that the planned closures announced last year, put on hold when COVID 19 landed, are going ahead. But we need to know what’s around the corner for the rest of the network. Our job is to protect your job. So, we’ll be pressing for redeployment opportunities where possible and for voluntary severance to be offered before any compulsory redundancies are considered.
We have our own ‘bumping register’ at Accord. This is a register of members who are prepared to leave the organisation to make way for someone who wants to stay. Of course, any ‘bump’ depends on a skills, salary and geography matching so adding your name to the register won’t guarantee that you’ll be able to ‘bump’. But we have had successes. If you’d like to be added (in complete confidence) send an email to [email protected]. Head your email “Bumping Register”. Robyn will log your interest, ask you for some additional information and confirm once you’re registered.
We were pleased to support the bank’s recent career development opportunity in the Remote Mortgages non-advised business. The 3 months’ secondment opportunity was specifically targeted at branch colleagues to help support customers with their mortgage journey with permanent roles possibly becoming available in 2021. We’re told that there was a lot of interest in the roles and we wish all successful applicants the very best of luck as they learn new skills to support the bank’s customers.
Feeling the cold?
Since COVID-19 struck the working environment has changed for many of you. Doors and windows being kept open for maximum ventilation may have been fine whilst the weather was good. But now we’re into winter, it’s not so comfortable.
We’re disappointed that your requests for warm/weather proof outerwear for queue combing were turned down and that our request for workplace temperature to feature in the round of risk assessments that have just been undertaken was rejected because LBG doesn’t think it’s a COVID related risk. Based on reports from our members – we do! And this would have been the right way to assess that risk.
We appreciate many of the good things the bank has done since the start of the pandemic. But on this issue we think it has fallen short.
To gauge the extent of the problem and consider what further action we can take to support you, please let us know if you’re experiencing temperature issues. The HSE guidance is here (you may not be able to download this if you’re reading this on LBG systems). As you’ll see, the Approved Code of Practice suggests the minimum temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius.
Send an email to [email protected] with the subject “Feeling the cold” to let us know if you’re experiencing issues.
Christmas & New Year opening hours 2020/2021
At long last, we’ve got the detail. Hopefully you have too. But if you missed it, here’s the plan for the festive period.
Antimicrobial door opening passholder
Members in the branch network have asked whether they’ll be getting the antimicrobial door opening passholders mentioned in update #19. The answer is YES – five are being sent to every branch immediately with facilities to order more if required. Let us know what you think of them when you get them.
If you work in a site...
Hands, face, space …
Feedback from members working in LBG sites has been limited. We’ve heard from some who are getting anxious about fellow colleagues not following the hands, face, space rules. So we’ll shout it out again here – please, please, please do your bit and follow the rules at all times. The infection rate is at its highest level right now. The only way to bring it down without a vaccine (and that’s still many months away) is to strictly follow the guidance.
If you’re working in a site and have issues you want us to address, please get in touch by email to [email protected]. We’re here to help and advise on any work related matter that’s worrying you. Give us a call if you’d prefer on 01189 341808 and you’ll be put through to our duty officer.
The group’s location strategy re-evaluates its property footprint over time and improves and invests in its key locations. When decisions are taken to close sites, we work closely with impacted members to ensure they’re treated in accordance with the bank’s travel and mobility policy. With so many site-based colleagues working from home at the moment, we haven’t had to deal with too many queries. But if you’re impacted by a site closure and want advice or guidance, get in touch with us by email or phone. Details at the end of this update.
From 9th November, Accord’s fabulous workplace reps kicked off another round of joint risk assessments. We monitor each and every one of them to make sure we’re keeping you as safe as possible.
If you have any concerns about the health and safety of your site, get in touch via the officer who covers your site. Details at the end of this update.
If you're a homeworker...
We’re working with the People & Productivity team to develop a homeworking hub that brings together all support materials in one place. If there’s anything you’d like to see included, send an email to [email protected]. He’ll make sure your views are considered as the project develops.
In Retail …
We have regular meetings with the Retail Division to monitor working from home capability and we’ve been impressed with the efforts made. Numbers have risen exponentially as more and more eligibility criteria have been unlocked. Some of the things we’re discussing include:
- Support for colleagues to work from home wherever possible
- Proposals to support wave 2 of COVID-19
- Developing proposals for transition to business as usual
- Developing the training solution (reducing down from 7 modules to 1)
- How to mitigate the exposure of colleagues to information security and fraud risks
- Review of colleague support measures
We also review what colleagues are saying about working from home. Generally, these are positive comments. You can read some verbatims here. If you’ve got other comments or experiences you’d like to share though, please send them in. Email us at [email protected] with the heading “Working From Home”.
Any comments or queries should be sent to the contacts listed in the newsletter.
Further updates will follow.