Work

HSBC Moves More Than 1,200 UK Staff to Permanent Home Working

HSBC will move more than 1,200 staff in Britain to permanent working from home contracts in an attempt to cut costs post-lockdown(s). The bank has gone one step further than introducing “hybrid working” contracts, where staff work from home some of the time, which some have predicted will become “the norm” when the country (and the world) unlocks. Reuters has the story.

HSBC is moving more than 1,200 staff in Britain to permanent working from home contracts, in one of the strongest indications yet of how banks are locking in changes to employees’ work patterns as a result of the pandemic to cut costs.

Around 70% of the bank’s 1,800 call centre staff based across England, Wales and Scotland had volunteered to never return to the office, Unite, one of Britain’s biggest employment unions, told Reuters.

Scores of companies have quickly cemented hybrid working and cut office space, but HSBC’s move to base some staff permanently at home goes further than most rivals opting for a mixed approach.

Such changes could lead to wellbeing concerns long term if not handled properly, Unite said.

A HSBC UK spokesman said: “We are in discussions with contact centre colleagues who serve HSBC UK retail customers about ways that we can offer flexibility on work location while ensuring the way we work meets our customers’ needs. These discussions are continuing.”

Unite said HSBC has offered staff a £300 per year working from home top-up payment to cover additional expenses such as higher heating and electricity bills.

A surprisingly high percentage of staff opted to work permanently from home, with only 5% saying they would prefer to fully return to the office.

Dominic Hook, the union’s national officer, said the contract changes for the 70% opting in were being finalised with teams, with those taking it up expected only to come in to HSBC offices for training.

A quarter of staff declined the offer as they wanted to work in the office at least some of the time, while 5% preferred to go back to the office permanently.

When Manhattan businesses began to reopen in March, only 10% of office workers returned to the workplace. Even in the long term, employers in the city expect 56% of their office staff will continue working remotely at least part of the time – an indication that work habits after Covid will be very different.

Reuters’ report on HSBC is worth reading in full.

Companies Could Enforce ‘No Jab, No Job’ Under Government’s Vaccine Passport Plans

Vaccine passports could be used by companies to ban people who have not been vaccinated from working for them, according to Government sources. Ministers are reportedly “resigned” to the fact that some bosses will enforce a ‘No Jab, No Job’ rule. This news comes alongside reports of the Government attempting to stem the growing concern among MPs about vaccine passports by adding a “sunset clause” to plans which would impose a time limit on the scheme. The Times has the story.

Vaccination passports could be imposed on the public for less than a year, according to plans being drawn up by Downing Street to head off a Tory revolt.

Boris Johnson will give the green light on Monday to the development of a system of “vaccine certification” as he looks to reinvigorate the economy. …

A senior Government source has… said that ministers were “resigned” to the fact that companies will be able to bar people who have not been vaccinated from working for them under plans for vaccine passports. The source said they would not legally be able to stop companies from demanding them as a condition of employment.

A number of UK companies have already made it clear that people will not be able to work for them unless they have been vaccinated against Covid – Pimlico Plumbers being one of the most widely reported examples. A recent survey – cited in the Times – found that over 50% of managers favour refusing work for those who have not been vaccinated.

The Chartered Institute of Management conducted a survey recently that found that more than half of managers wanted to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for staff returning to work. Unions oppose the approach.

Although ministers have been clear that they will not make certificates mandatory for offices, there are no plans to forbid bosses from establishing their own schemes.

Worth reading in full.

Spain to Trial Four-Day Working Week

In a further indication that the world will not return to normal after lockdown(s), Spain is set to trial reducing its working week to four days in the hope of preventing increases in Covid infections. Sky News has the story.

Spain is planning to use €50 million (£43 million) in EU funds to cut its working week to four days in a bid to prevent further coronavirus outbreaks.

The experiment is set to last for three years and will be funded by money from the European Union’s massive Covid recovery fund.

The money will compensate some 200 mid-size companies as they resize their workforce or reorganise production workflows to adapt to a 32-hour working week.

It will go towards subsidising all of the employers’ extra costs in the first year of the trial and then reduce the government’s aid to 50% and 25% each consecutive year. …

Reducing work hours from 40 to 35 per week in 2017 would have resulted in a 1.5% GDP growth and 560,000 new jobs, a study published earlier this year in the Cambridge Journal of Economics found.

Salaries would have also increased nationally by 3.7%, especially benefiting women who more often take part-time jobs, the research said.

Software Delsol, in southern Spain, invested €400,000 (£343,000) last year to reduce working hours for its 190 employees and has since then reported a 28% reduction in absenteeism, with people choosing to go to the bank or see their doctor on their weekday off.

Their sales increased last year by 20% and no single employee has quit since the new schedule was adopted.

However, the scheme’s critics say a pandemic-shaken economy is not the best scenario for experiments.

Work after the pandemic is likely to be very different from that before 2020. In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about people spending more of their working hours at home. According to the workspace provider IWG (formerly Regus), “hybrid working”, where staff work from home some of the time, will become “the norm”. The BBC has the story.

Working from home some of the time, or hybrid working, will become “the norm” for many companies after the pandemic, says global workspace provider IWG.

Firms will be looking to save money and be more environment-friendly by using less office space, said IWG chief executive Mark Dixon.

IWG said 2020 had been a “challenging” year as fewer firms rented its offices.

But it said it was ready to take advantage of “accelerating demand” for hybrid working.

Sky’s report on Spain’s trial is worth reading in full.

Half of Bosses Won’t Allow Unvaccinated Staff Back into Offices, Survey Finds

A survey of more than 300 business owners indicates that a significant proportion of unvaccinated workers will not be allowed to return to their workplaces, even when lockdown restrictions are lifted. The Mail has the story.

Half of business owners say they won’t allow their staff to return to offices if they haven’t had a Covid vaccine.

A survey of more than 300 bosses found that 51% would allow only those who had been jabbed to visit company premises.

The study, which covered firms that employ fewer than 250 staff, comes as more companies prepare for a return to workplaces as lockdown eases…

Tycoon Charlie Mullins, who founded Pimlico Plumbers, has already said he will introduce a “no jab, no job” policy for new employees

Meanwhile, other employers are considering using health passports so that only vaccinated staff or those who have tested negative for Covid can enter their offices.

The results of this survey – conducted by Yonder on behalf of Cignpost ExpressTest – suggest that even “hybrid working” (working from home some of the time) won’t be allowed by over half of Britain’s bosses for those who decide against taking the vaccine.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: We ran a post about the legality of ‘No Jab, No Job’ and whether employees could refuse to comply and keep their jobs here.

Only 10% of Manhattan’s Office Workers Return to Workplace

Reports earlier this week that “hybrid working” could become “the norm” following lockdowns have been confirmed in Manhattan, where only 10% of office workers have returned to the workplace. The Financial Times has the story.

Just 10% of Manhattan’s one million office workers had returned to the workplace by early March, according to a study indicating that most of them will still be working remotely by September.

The survey of large employers by the Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group, suggests that Manhattan offices are still as empty as they were last October.

Expectations for returning to the office have slipped since then, however: while employers polled last October expected to bring back 48% of their office staff by July, they now anticipate having just 45% back at their desks by September.

Over the longer term, employers expect 56% of their office staff to continue working remotely at least part of the time.

On Wednesday, workspace provider IWG (formerly Regus) said “[hybrid working] works for companies, because it’s a lot cheaper”. But is the amount of money saved from making staff work at home greater than the reported cost of reduced productivity that this causes?

Worth reading in full.

“Hybrid Working” to Become “the Norm” Post-Covid

Working from home is likely to become more common over the coming years as firms consider cutting office costs from their budgets. According to the workspace provider IWG (formerly Regus), “hybrid working”, where staff work from home some of the time, will become “the norm”. The BBC has the story.

Working from home some of the time, or hybrid working, will become “the norm” for many companies after the pandemic, says global workspace provider IWG.

Firms will be looking to save money and be more environment-friendly by using less office space, said IWG chief executive Mark Dixon.

IWG said 2020 had been a “challenging” year as fewer firms rented its offices.

But it said it was ready to take advantage of “accelerating demand” for hybrid working.

“Something’s happening and it is a change to the way that companies and people work,” Mr Dixon told the BBC’s Today programme.

At the very least, Mr Dixon said that many firms will seek alternatives to owning their own office space, and will adopt third-party facilities instead.

“It works for companies, because it’s a lot cheaper,” he said. “It’s also much, much better for the environment,” he added, as it enabled workers to cut back on commuting.

Unemployment of Recent Graduates Reached 12% Last Year

A report by the ONS has found that unemployment for recent university graduates reached 12% in the third quarter of last year, following months of Government-imposed lockdowns. Here are the key findings:

Unemployment amongst graduates has been consistently lower than the total. The average unemployment rate for graduates between Quarter 1 2017 and Quarter 3 2020 was 3.0%, compared with the total average unemployment rate of 4.2%. However, average unemployment for recent graduates was the highest, averaging at 6.3% over the period and reaching a peak of 12.0% in Quarter 3 2020. This suggests that recent graduates have been hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of unemployment.