COVID-19: HSBC could move more than 1,200 staff to permanent work-from-home contracts

Wednesday 7th April 2021 15:15 BST

Around 70% of the bank's 1,800 call centre staff serving UK retail customers from bases in England, Wales and Scotland volunteered not to return to the office, according to the Unite.

The union told news agency Reuters that HSBC had offered home-working staff £300 per year to cover additional expenses such as higher heating and electricity bills.

Dominic Hook, the union's national officer, said those opting in were expected to come to offices only for training under contract changes being finalised with teams.

A quarter of staff had declined the offer, preferring to work in the office at least some of the time, while 5% wanted to return to the office permanently.

Mr Hook said the union was broadly supportive of the move as long as it was voluntary, adding that workers should not be forced to stay at home if they did not want to.

He said: "If it's genuinely voluntary and people's rights are protected then that's fine, but people need to go in with their eyes wide open.

"After a year it may not seem that bad, but after five it might feel different."

An HSBC UK spokesperson told Sky News: "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."

HSBC is not the only big company re-examining where workers should do their jobs.

It comes more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, which - for many - was their first experience with large-scale home-working arrangements.

In the past few months:

  • Nationwide Building Society told 13,000 staff they can "work anywhere", as it announced it would not renew the leases on three offices in its Swindon base
  • Lloyds Banking Group said it was aiming for a 20% reduction in its office space within three years
  • Metro Bank said it was planning a "hybrid model" of working
  • John Lewis Partnership said that from May it will adopt a permanent 'blended' working model giving those in its head office a choice of where they work
  • British Airways and the owner of the Daily Mirror, Reach, signalled a more permanent switch to remote working
  • Outsourcing giant Capita's chief executive Jon Lewis told the PA news agency that his company was telling 35,000 of its 55,000 employees they can work from home most of the time if they wish
  • KPMG said that, while the "vast majority" of its workers would continue to work from home, its offices would remain open for "those who have a business or wellbeing need"
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