Archive for Health and Safety

Return to the office…

The limited re-opening of AXA offices continues with Birmingham, Glasgow, Haverhill and Weybridge due to reopen with limited capacity over the next several weeks, with all those returning to the office doing so on a voluntary basis. As with all previous reopenings we have engaged actively with the company on your behalf, ensuring that health and safety is front and centre of the decision making process.

Whilst for many working from home will continue to be the norm for the time being, AXA are looking to ensure there is no drastic drop off in productivity. Consequently it may be in some business areas, where working from home has had a demonstrable negative impact on productivity, and if there is capacity in your local office (subject to social distancing requirements etc), that you may be asked to return to the office for some days a week.

This will only occur if your manager has demonstrated the necesity to do this due to a reduction in productivity.

If you have concerns about returning to the office (eg, you normally use public transport and have concerns over using it safely) or have child care issues or health issues, then in the first instance you should have a conversation with your manager who should address them and hopefully suggest ways of alleviating your concerns or problems.

If you are not satisfied with your manager’s response, then please contact your local union reps who will work with you to try and reach a solution.

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AXA offices reopening…

Monday will see AXA begin the process of re-opening some of its offices following the lockdown. In AXA Insurance these offices are Ipswich, Middlesbrough and Morecambe and less than 50 staff will be returning across the three sites. Additionally Ipswich and Middlesbrough will be used for some training before those staff return to working from home.

Unite in AXA have been heavily involved in consultation with the company over these reopenings and our primary focus has been on the health and safety of those returning. We have seen the in-depth risk assessments for the three sites and shared these with the lead union reps at each site for their input and challenge.

We have ensured that AXA provide masks to be worn by those that wish, checked social distancing protocols not only within the buildings but also outside in car parks etc. all to make sure those returning are kept as safe as possible.

Those returning will have to abide by certain rules not only for their own safety, but also that of their colleagues and we would encourage any members in this first tranche of returnees to make sure they know the rules and follow them.

The returning staff are those that have, for various reasons, been unable to work from home during the lockdown. AXA has confirmed that no employee is being forced to return to the office and if they do not feel comfortable at this stage, they will not be made to. If you are told to, or feel pressured by your manager to return to the office before you are comfortable, please speak to your local union rep.

This is the first phase of the re-opening process and the next stage with more sites re-opening is likely to be within the next few weeks depending on the success of phase one and the relaxing of Government guidlines. However, again, any further re-openings will be limited numbers of people wise and we are told on a voluntary basis.

Whilst social distancing protocols remain in place, it is not physically possible for the vast majority of workers to return to normal office work in AXA, so working from home for the majority is the new norm for the majority for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind we have been extremely vocal on the issue of AXA supplying the necessary equipments beyond just laptops and phones to allow you to work from home safely and comfortably. Hopefully the frustrating problems many have experienced have now been sorted and chairs, screens, desks etc are now being shipped to workers who need them. If you are still  experiencing problems having your requirements agreed, please speak to your local Unite in AXA rep.

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We need more kit… now!

As have said previously AXA’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and speed at which it managed to get us all working from home with new laptops was praiseworthy, reducing the risk of infection to staff in as timely a manner as possible. 

Unfortunately since then, the follow up to provide additional equipment to make working from home easier and safer has been less speedy. Many members have contacted us saying how their working arrangements at home are unsatisfactory due to the lack of facilities the have. Employees have reported to us being hunched over laptops sat of coffee tables, sat in an armchair all day, using an ironing board as a desk and even working from their bed! Others have reported eye strain issues with only having a small laptop screen when normally they use two monitors.

Not only does this negatively impact the abilities of us to do the work we are trying to do, it also has a negative impact on our health with the increased risk of back problems and eyesight to name just two.

It is now two weeks since AXA told employees it was looking into this but nothing much appears to have been done and we have told the company that it must prioritise the issue of lack of suitable desks, chairs, screens, keyboards, mouse etc for employees working from home, and they need to do this in the same speedy manner as they rolled out laptops.

Additionally we have raised the issue were staff have attempted to resolve issues of kit their managers have not by dipping into their own pocket to by a mouse or other equipment just so they can do their job more efficiently. A multi-national company the size of AXA should not expect its employees to buy the equipment neeeded to do the job they are employed to and we fully expect AXA to recompense any reasonable purchases.

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Unite in AXA promote cancer awareness

Unite in AXA is promoting a series of events across the country raising cancer awareness and the need for staff to ensure they check for signs of cancer on a regular basis. If an event is running on your site this week, please pop along and have a chat with the local workplace reps running it.

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