At the start of the pandemic flexitime was suspended in Commercial Lines. Since then we have engaged with the business in an effort to see the reintroduction of it in some form as soon as was practical. Following on from our survey last year, which raised a number of concerns around the suspension, a working party (which included several union reps) was set up by AXA to look into flexible working in Commercial Lines, with a view to how this could work in the forthcoming smart working environment.
This working party gathered feedback from commercial staff across all grades and departments and has now produced a set of proposedprinciples for flexible working for Commercial going forward, which incorporates flexitime (now called banked hours) as an option giving employees access to different flexible working options, including the ability to work flexibly within the working day/ week and the ability to bank hours where there is a business need for additional hours to be worked. These guidelines are different from the old rather prescriptive flexitime charter rules and see a number of improvements but also see some changes that some people may feel impact them negatively.
The flexible working principles have now been published so employees can read and understand the proposed changes and we are encouraging you to provide feedback to your local union rep to be fed back into the working party about any major concerns you might possibly have with the new guidelines.
The principles are of course a compromise of many different viewpoints on the subject and whilst not everyone is going to be pleased with some of the proposed changes, the improvements from current rules hopefully demonstrate that whilst the end result is a compromise it is a definite improvement to the ongoing suspension of flexitime.
Are you home-schooling or in a household with young children? Unite in AXA are holding sessions to see how this lockdown is impacting on you. The sessions will be held on Bluejeans and are open to all AXA employees with childcare responsibilities. The Meetings are as follows:
Last night the Government announced that it would be closing schools as part of the national lockdown, contradicting its position just 24 hours earlier and causing major problems for many parents.
Last year, to help parents, AXA extended its provision of paid emergency leave from five days to twenty which along with the ability to flex working patterns and holiday allowed many to cope with the circumstances they found themselves in.
Whilst the company has announced that the use of these twenty days can now be extended to April 2021, it is likely that most employees who have needed to use these days have probably used all of them in the first two lockdowns.
Most employees with childcare responsibilities in AXA will be able to manage their situation through working flexibly hours, taking holiday and sharing responsibilities with partners, although we appreciate that it can be difficult and stressful.
However there is a group of employees with younger children who in customer facing roles who cannot work flexibly and have no partner to share looking after their child(ren), and these need support beyond what the company is currently offering.
The Government Job Retention Scheme allows these employees to be furloughed and receive (at least) 80% of their salary, but the company has decided that it will not use the scheme, so this option which would address the problem is not available.
We have asked AXA to urgently review its policy to help this group of employees and solve a problem it has largely created itself by not utilising the scheme for the small number of employees who need the help it would provide.
If you have childcare responsibilities and have problems balancing them with your work in the first instance you should speak with your manager, but if you get no help there, please contact your local Unite in AXA rep for help.