Since the start of this crisis the union has been campaigning tirelessly for more front-line staff working in Group sites to be allowed to work from home. The more we all stay at home and reduce our social contacts the less chance we have of catching the virus and, more importantly, spreading it to the old and vulnerable in our communities.
It’s taken far too long but the bank’s senior management team seem to be finally listening. A number of the largest branches are now introducing shifts with staff divided into two teams working one week on and one week off. In some of the smaller branches staff are working 2 days on and 2 days off. We also understand that Banking Consultants will be given laptops to enable them to work from home helping connect customers.
Jo Harris, Managing Director, Lloyds Community Bank said: “I want to be clear that we do not intend to call on colleagues to travel to work unless it is absolutely necessary to provide an essential service”. We welcome that commitment but she needs to ensure that all branches follow best practice across the whole of Lloyds. Unfortunately, we’ve been here before with those in Gresham Street thinking that just because they’ve issued an order, everybody follows it. They don’t and any changes in working practices need to be policed from the centre. In our experience command and control doesn’t work in Lloyds. The other community banks – Halifax and Bank of Scotland – should be following the same best practice.
We will be monitoring this very closely over the next few days.
In respect of the non-branch locations, we would expect the bank to be using some of the 20,000 new laptops to allow more front-line staff to work from home. We are hearing more and more stories of staff doing work that is not “essential” and line managers need to understand that by doing this they are risking the health and wellbeing of their staff for no good reason. The bank senior management team should review independently all work that is being done at Group sites in non-branch locations to make sure it is “essential”.
Bonuses For Front-Line Staff
Last night people across the UK took part in a second “Clap for Carers” tribute, saluting NHS staff and other key workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Delivery drivers, supermarket staff, bank staff, care workers and bin collectors were among those honoured by the nation.
Front-line staff working in organisations like M&S, Tesco, Aldi, Asda have all been given ‘thank-you’ bonuses ranging from 10% to 15%. Morrisons is giving its staff a one-off bonus of £1,050. Front-line staff in the Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland Community banks and all those working in Group sites who are taking the greatest risk coming into work are some of the lowest paid staff in the bank. A one-off bonus, for example, worth at least 15% of salary for the period of this crisis seems only fair for these front-line staff.
The GEC should get its cheque book open now.
We will also be writing to the Chancellor asking him to guarantee that bonuses paid to key front-line staff in essential businesses are free from tax and national insurance.
Cracking The Whip
The Prudential Regulatory Authority said that it had effectively ordered the banks to cancel the dividends they had proposed for 2019 and got pledges to stop pay outs this year including share buyback. The PRA threatened to use its supervisory powers, which include requiring a firm to undertake or stop a certain action.
In his letter to Lloyds, Sam Woods, the Chief Executive of the PRA says: “The PRA also expects banks not to pay any cash bonuses to senior staff, including all material risk takers”. That raises a number of important issue and we have written to Sam Woods asking for clarification. A copy of that letter is set out below.
Lloyds Banking Group Cash Bonuses
I refer to your letter of 31 March 2020 to Antonio Horta-Osorio, Group Chief Executive, Lloyds Banking Group regarding the suspension of dividends and buybacks on shares until the end of 2020, and the cancellation of payments of outstanding 2019 dividends.
In that letter you say: “The PRA also expects banks not to pay any cash bonuses to senior staff, including all material risk takers.” I should be grateful if you could define what you mean by “senior staff” in the context of Lloyds Banking Group. Are you referring to the 292 senior staff as set out on page 127 of the Group’s Annual Report and Accounts 2019? A copy of page 127 is attached for your information. Furthermore, are you referring to deferred cash bonuses paid in 2020? If part of those bonuses have already been paid out, do you expect those to be clawed back by Lloyds? Does the ban also cover bonuses that might be earned in 2020 but paid out in 2021?
As you know we are the largest trade union in Lloyds and represent most of the senior staff in branches and offices that are currently helping customers and businesses through this difficult period. I’m sure you will agree with me that it would be unfair to penalise those staff because of the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19.
I look forward to your response.
Members with any comments or issues they would like us to deal should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).