A slight fox up…

Yesterday AXA Insurance issued instructions to customer facing staff around how to respond to anyone who asks them about fox hunting either by email or voice. Unfortunately there was no context to this and a certain ambiguity around the wording required to be used.

Staff are advised to say that “we do not provide insurance to the hunting industry, this includes trail hunting and legal services for hunts”. This is perfectly correctly for AXA Insurance here in the UK. Historically the company did provide some legal insurance in this area but no longer does.

We have discussed with the company at UK and international level the ethics around insuring legal, but publicly unpopular risks, and are pleased to see AXA Insurance no longer underwriting risks like this. Globally AXA has an ethical investment policy, we are pushing for an ethical insurance one as well to help protect the brand which in turn protects jobs.

Unfortunately however it appears AXA as a whole globally does provide insurance for hunting. AXA XL (one of the groups international operations with its head office in the United States) does underwrite policies for a variety of hunting activities. Whilst this is nothing to do with AXA Insurance here in the UK, the distinction between AXA XL run from the US and AXA Insurance run from London are no doubt irrelevant to those campaigning about fox hunting and similar activities. AXA after all is AXA.

We intend to discuss the AXA XL issue further in the appropriate forum with Group management, but would urge members to follow the instructions issued yesterday and if the caller is unhappy with the response, or abusive, that they refer the matter to their line manager to deal with. We would also like members to let your local union rep know so we can see what additional action can be taken by AXA Insurance if required to make the messaging clearer to upset individuals and also protect our members.

Jobs lost in Ipswich travel…

Following the exit of the Lloyds Banking Group scheme in November 2021, AXA Insurance have announced their intentions to reduce the number of staff employed within the travel insurance area of the business. This is due to a decrease in the number of staff required to support the function, as AXA UK plans to leave the travel insurance market.

Whilst many have been able to seek alternative redeployment within AXA, there will still be the loss of 73 jobs.

Unite in AXA are hosting a surgery on Friday for members impacted, between 12 and 1:30pm. Please contact one of your reps, who can send you the details. If you require any help or support, a list of your reps can be found here.

Options in Travel Claims…

Since the announcement that AXA had lost the Lloyds contract back in March it has been an extremely worrying time for many members working in that business area. Whilst TUPE job protections exist the ability for the them to be utilised effectively can often be dependent on whether the new employer is geographically local to the existing one. In this case the new company, Allianz, and the jobs, are based in Croydon.

Pre-pandemic unless an individual wished to move to a new town the normal end result would be redundancy if a redeployment could not be found in the existing company they were working for. However the fact that for the last 16 months staff working on the Lloyds contract have successfully managed to do so from home has proven that it is not a pre-requisite that staff need to work in an office (whether that be in Ipswich or Croydon).

This new reality formed the basis of our consultation with AXA and they took this position to Allianz who have re-looked at their original assumptions and agreed that a new way of working is one that they can adopt.

This offers the opportunity for a large number of AXA staff to transfer to Allianz whilst continuing to work mainly from home.

As staff in Travel Claims will now know following the follow up announcement on Monday from management that moving forward will not be straight forward. 

Allianz want to recruit some workers prior to the official handover in November and whilst those jobs will be offered to AXA employees in the affected population in the first instance this does fall outside the remit of TUPE legislation which will cover those who move over in November. 

Additionally there is the run off of the remaining Travel Claims operation which will see that business taken over by AXA Assistance in Redhill or by other companies. TUPE legislation will need to be taken into account as and when this happens.

Additionally there also should be jobs within AXA Insurance available for employees to apply for.

Whilst this is a complicated situation with different phases and staff put into different ‘pods’ dependent on the impact on them of the Lloyds loss, the good news is that a lot of jobs will be preserved (inside and outside of AXA) and we are hopeful that the number of compulsory redundancies now will be very minimal.

We appreciate that the amount of information provided by the company on Monday is daunting and we would urge members looking for clarity or with concerns to speak to the local unions reps in Ipswich who are on hand to help.

Unite will soon be engaging with Allianz directly for consultation and negotiation regarding the terms and conditions of the AXA staff who apply for jobs and start with to Allianz in September and those who will transfer under TUPE in November and we will update you on that once those meetings have concluded.

Flexitime reinstated in Retail Motor Claims…

Following intervention from Unite in AXA, flexitime will be reintroduced in Retail Motor Claims from 1st June following its suspension without our knowledge.

Further flexitime will be rolled out in Household Claims once staff resourcing issues have been resolved.

Thanks to our new Claims rep in Tunbridge Wells, Gary Summers, for bringing the matter to our attention.

Travel claims announcement

Today’s announcement of the loss of the Lloyds contract will cause worry and anxiety for the staff in Travel Claims who now face an uncertain future. At present there are many important questions that cannot be immediately answered, but we will be working with the company to protect the interests of our members in the affected unit, and minimise any potential job losses.

If you have any concerns, please speak to your local Unite in AXA representative and we will do our best to answer them. A list of reps can be found here.

9 in 10 Commercial Staff Working Excess Hours…

The recent Commercial Flexitime Survey put into black and white, the stark issue of the amount of extra hours Commercial staff are having to undertake to support customers and the business, much of it without any form of compensation from AXA Insurance.

Over 250 employees completed the survey and almost nine in ten said they were working in excess of their contracted hours with over one-third saying they worked in excess of five hours a week extra. This is of concern as the main reason Commercial Operations senior management gave us in March for suspending flexitime was to avoid staff working excess hours for mental health reasons.

The vast majority of respondents said they were doing this to keep on top of their normal workload and worryingly one-third were doing this extra work without their manager even being aware.

Of those staff doing excess hours and where their manager was aware, despite the assurances of Jon Walker, head of Commercial, back in March that staff would not be expected to work excess hours for nothing, six in ten employees have been told by their local management that they cannot claim the extra hours they have worked supporting the business. 

Half of those staff had been told by their manager that they would not be compensated for the extra time they have worked as “flexitime been suspended/not available/withdrawn”, contradicting the promises made by senior management. The other half were not given a reason.

The results did not come as a surprise to Unite in AXA, we pointed out in March after flexitime was unilaterally suspended by management that staff regularly work excess hours to support customer need and in July flagged the issue that despite the promise Jon Walker made, local managers in many instances were not crediting staff with work done beyond contracted hours whether that be by overtime, flexitime hours banking or time off in lieu.

We have presented the survey to Jon Walker, Commercial HR and other senior HR managers and look forward to their response to our findings and what action they propose to take following receipt of the data that they requested we find to back up our previously raised concerns.

Commercial Flexitime Survey

At the end of April Commercial Lines suspended flexitime without consultation with Unite. In subsequent conversations Commercial management stated they were doing this in the interests of employee well being so people did not work excessive hours at home. We disagreed with this citing a range of factors from business needs, to ways of managing the perceived problem, to the fact other areas in AXA Insurance still were operating flexitime eg. Claims,  but the decision had already been made.

Jon Walker, head of Commercial, assured us that no member of staff would be expected to work more than their contracted hours, and if they needed to for specific customer needs then they would no be expected to work for free and would be given the time back.

Regardless of that we have received numerous calls from members that this is not happening, or only after making a lot of fuss with their manager often requiring the intervention of their local union rep.

In July, with some staff now working back in the office, we suggested a phased return of flexitime but Commercial management have ignored our suggestion, eventually after two months of chasing, only offering to set up a working party to see how flexitime will operate in the future smart working environment (the hybrid, part home/part office one) even though that is at its formative discussion stage and no where near being rolled out.

Despite the anecdotal evidence we provided from members, Commercial management do not believe there is a problem so we have decided to survey as many staff as we can in Commercial operations across the country to evidence how widespread the issue is.

Consequently if you work in Commercial Lines (not in Claims or Finance doing Commercial orientated work) we would be grateful if you could complete this survey, and encourage your colleagues also, so we can pursue the matter of flexitime with senior management.

Please click here to access the survey.

Widespread redundancies in AXA Claims…

Yesterday’s announcement in claims of the loss of 280 roles is extremely disappointing, even though this is mitigated by around 70 vacancies that will not be now filled being included in the total. Unite in AXA have been involved in a lengthy and detailed consultation process over the last few months regarding the business review challenging the company plans robustly. 

Whilst the business case is understandable, we are extremely disappointed that over the last few years AXA Insurance allowed the problems within Claims to grow to a point that now over 200 hard working and dedicated staff are facing redundancy through no fault of their own. 

The timing of the announcement and job losses is also disappointing given the negative impact on the jobs market due to Coronavirus. AXA have confirmed that in addition to the normal support staff at risk of redundancy receive, they are also engaging with other companies who are looking to recruit to facilitate impacted workers finding new jobs.

If you are a member at risk of redundancy, please speak to your local union rep if you need help or support. A list can be found here.