Branch network – lifting lockdown
As the nation states work through steps to be taken on the route back to a more normal life, we’ve been talking to LBG's branch network leadership team over the last few weeks about its own roadmap out of lockdown.
We’re pleased that the business has agreed to take a carefully planned approach rather than “sleepwalking” back to the way things were pre-COVID. So much has changed since then.
A measured approach to building back the business as we become accustomed to living with this virus is what’s needed, centred around your health and safety and focussed on what your customers need right now. We’ll continue to work closely with LBG to deliver this strategy.
As a first step and to support the lifting of national restrictions, you’ll be faced with a number of changes to the way you’ve been working:
Branch opening hours
Your branch won’t necessarily revert back to its pre-COVID opening hours. Data analysis has been carried out for every single branch to set opening hours that best match anticipated customer demand.
You’ll hear from your Area Director team soon about plans for your branch.
Any changes will start from 12th April in England and Wales and from 26th April in Scotland. The position in Northern Ireland will be confirmed after the review on 15th April.
The new opening hours may have an impact on your working hours – the days and times you work them. But there are safeguards in place to protect your pay and personal circumstances:-
- You will be asked to be as flexible as you can to support the new opening hours, but if you CAN’T work your full contracted hours you will still receive FULL PAY. This on-going commitment is most welcome and we applaud Lloyds Banking Group for re-confirming it.
- Whilst you’ll be expected to be as flexible as you can, you won’t be FORCED to change your working hours or pattern if it causes you significant personal difficulty.
- You can continue to work your contracted hours once the branch is closed but you won’t be expected to stay in the branch if there’s nothing for you to do. It’s anticipated that there will be plenty to keep you busy – like training, 121s, telephone interviews. But none of the silly stuff like vacuuming the branch!
We think this is a supportive approach, but we know that messages sometimes get distorted as they filter down to the frontline.
We’re here to advise and support you if that happens in your branch. Or if you just want to check what you’re being told locally. Pick up the phone or drop us an email – see contact details at the end of this update (look for your branch postcode to choose the right officer).
Working in more than 1 branch
The bank has agreed that it won’t revert to full cross-pool working for now, in favour of introducing more limited movement to no more than 2 branches per week.
We’ve been given an assurance that no-one will be forced to work in another branch if it will cause them significant personal difficulties, including transport problems, heightened stress levels, interference with domestic responsibilities etc.
Your manager may well ask you to work elsewhere and if you can support the business you should. But if you genuinely can’t then it’s reasonable for you to say ‘no’. And we’ll be here to advise and support you if you can’t sort things out locally.
There’s no intention right now to move to Phase 5 of the strategy scale – “Expand” (that’s the phase where you proactively identify needs beyond original requests and make proactive outbound calls etc.)
For now, you’ll be restricted to Phase 4 – Explore activity. What does that mean? You should read in full the bank’s Phase 4 reactive services guidance, but here’s a quick summary of key points:
- BCs – can introduce additional products and services that may help customers based on what they’ve heard or seen on the customers’ accounts.
- CSAs – will be reactive to all customer requests and focus on customers with financial difficulties and vulnerability indicators. CSAs can also highlight potential products and services that would help customers based on what they’ve seen or heard during the transaction.
- Outbound calling – customer wellbeing calls, BM calls, supporting customers with their mortgage journey.
- Interviews – customers can be offered a choice of telephone, face to face with a colleague who is comfortable to do so or self-serve online. No colleague will for FORCED to carry out face to face interviews. It’s entirely their choice. Anyone being pressurised to do so against their will should contact the union for advice.
Branch staff on loan to Customer Services
If you’ve been helping out in Customer Services then you’ll continue to do so but the branch network team may ask you to return earlier than planned if the branch needs you. We’ve made it clear that if this happens you must be given enough notice to be able to make any adjustments to your domestic responsibilities that may have changed since you took up the secondment. We’re here to help and advise if you find yourself in this situation and can’t work things out locally.
The bank is reviewing all of its mobile branches as we move towards a more ‘normal’ state – routes as well as operating hours – and has agreed to share its findings with Accord soon. If they impact staffing arrangements we’ll want to consult those impacted. So, if you’re a mobile branch colleague, please let us know so we can keep you informed. Send an email to [email protected] with the header “Mobile branches”.
We’ve been asking for a review of the on-call proposition for many months – in fact, before COVID hit us. At last, it’s on the table for discussion. If you’re an on-call member and want to be kept in the loop as the talks develop, send an email to [email protected] headed “On-call review”. Please include in your email the date you started with the bank and the date your employment is due to end.
MaPAs – Easter Saturday
We’ve heard from some MaPAs who work from home that they feel disadvantaged by the decision to close branches but keep them working on Easter Saturday. We’ve passed on those views but haven’t been able to change the decision unfortunately on the basis that Easter weekend is the busiest of the year for property sales and a mortgage service on Easter Saturday is therefore essential to the bank’s efforts to build back.
Some MaPAs have also contacted us about other pressures they’re feeling as workloads increase and working practices have been changed. If you’re a MaPA and have concerns you want us to raise at our regular meetings with senior management send an email to [email protected] headed “MaPA concerns”.
Workplace covid testing
We’ve had a commitment from LBG that it will support colleagues who need to get a test so you don’t have to book them out of working hours or use holiday/make up the time. The business is also working through the details of the newly announced free rapid home testing kits to see if it’s possible to join the scheme. More details will follow.
We’ll continue to work closely with LBG - further updates will follow.