POST OFFICE: COVID-19 – RECOGNITION: EXTRA DAY’S ANNUAL LEAVE
Branches will be aware Royal Mail is to make a one-off £200 payment with June salaries to our RM members in recognition of their efforts in continuing to maintain services across the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following Royal Mail’s announcement on 15th May, we immediately took the initiative to write to the Post Office to propose a similar recognition payment for our Post Office members who have helped to keep the nation’s Post Offices open. We made this claim as all of our members are key workers and deserve to be fully recognised for the hard work and effort they have been putting in on the front line to deliver essential services under exceptionally difficult circumstances.
Nick Read, CEO, responded negatively to our proposal, as he claimed it would be “cost prohibitive”. It should be noted that the £58m out of court settlement arrived at last December in regards to the Group Litigation Order for the Horizon scandal was conveniently and completely airbrushed out of the narrative within Nick Read’s rejection letter.
However, the Post Office seemingly had a mild change of heart with regards to recognition per se as during Nick Read’s regular video update to employees of 10th June (referred to as the “10@10”) he announced that all Post Office employees would receive an extra day’s annual leave. This position was confirmed by Steve O’Reilly, People Director, Business Partnering, in his “One Update” communication of 10th June in which he stated:
“We felt it was the right thing to do to mark this day as an occasion, and so we’ve chosen Friday 31st July as the designated day for this extra day of leave, as far as this is operationally feasible. Just as we would as if this were a traditional Bank Holiday, we will need to make this work across all our operations to protect the services we provide for our customers and postmasters, and so we’re now going to be working through local arrangements to enable as many of our people to be able to take this precise day of leave as we can.”
Our members, on learning about this “recognition” were naturally unimpressed and underwhelmed by this tokenistic gesture in comparison to a meaningful reward.
Indeed many have commented on social media about how insulted they feel. We believe the extra day’s annual leave is a poor substitute for a tangible monetary payment. Notwithstanding this position, we wanted to ensure the arrangements for taking the extra day’s annual leave were transparent and fairly and consistently applied for all members. As a consequence, we held discussions with the Post Office to agree the practicalities and logistics of our members taking the day’s extra leave and the attached Joint Statements to support our position (one for Crown Offices and one for Supply Chain) have now been published.
Crown Office (Directly Managed Branches) Arrangements
Crown Offices will remain open on Friday 31st July as they provide an essential service to customers. The arrangements to take the extra day off are as follows:
- Members will be able to select their extra day off in lieu anytime between the period of Monday 20th July and Saturday 5th September inclusive
- The key principle being a full attendance will be given as a day’s leave with no claw back of hours for all (including part-timers)
- Those on annual leave, maternity leave, sick leave, paid special leave or a rest day on 31st July will also be credited with an extra day’s annual leave (ideally to be taken within the time frame above where possible).
Supply Chain Arrangements
All Cash Centres, Swindon stock operations and the majority of CViT Depots will be closed on 31st July, enabling the vast majority of Supply Chain members to take this day off as annual leave. There will be a skeleton operation working in some CViT Depots in order to service High Value Mail contracts on behalf of Royal Mail and at the cash management team in Bristol. For those members working on 31st July, the arrangements outlined above for Crown Offices equally apply. In addition:
• No-one will be financially disadvantaged for taking the extra day’s annual leave either on 31st July or on an alternative date. This includes payment for any Scheduled Attendance due to be worked on that day.
Obviously, for all members, work-life balance is important and nobody is going to refuse an extra day’s annual leave, especially during the peak summer period. It is though evident that the Post Office has come up with this idea for an extra day’s annual leave on a cost neutral basis as local managers will be expected where possible to absorb it into the normal operation with the emphasis on no additional costs.
Whilst our members remain disappointed the Post Office felt unable to match the £200 recognition payment in Royal Mail, we felt it necessary to ensure a fair and reasonable application of the extra day’s annual leave by agreeing a sensible approach with Management. Early indications are that members are grateful for the clarity the Joint Statements have provided.