This UK bank has moved to a four-day work week without cutting pay

Bank of Scotland is the UK’s only bank to do so, but will make it compulsory for staff in Scotland after summer

This UK bank has moved to a four-day work week without cutting pay

On paper, the government isn’t pleased. We’re a legally obliged workforce, but we can’t have four days of strike action! Meanwhile, the banks – who treat their customers far more decently than our government – seem very pleased. In a startling statement, the bank group last week gave its staff the green light to walk out without losing any of their pay.

The move will make banking in Scotland rather much more productive: you might expect to spend a few extra hours shopping for groceries (even if you’re paying in cash), but apparently you’re better off just stopping off for lunch at the fast-food chain Burger King.

Pre-bank strike, after the news, one of the few hangovers on Twitter was a report by the Bookseller from its research department, who’d been looking into the issue.

Shakespeare goes to the ballot box. Photograph: Private Collection/Getty Images

Since 2011, 33% of consumer research trips to branches of the British Bankers’ Association (a trade association) have been made by staff, while just 15% have been taken by customers. A basic BBA bonus is £250 (due to be paid out in the next few weeks), so clearly staff would be taking no more than a holiday now for the chance to get a bonus. So we’re talking a pay rise of £1,000 here, £500 of which would likely go on a nice aching head – but staff could probably afford a nice dinner with a few beers, if they wanted to get their money’s worth.

Additional research showed that however busy staff are with customers, they are still less than happy with the service. Some employees said that the “30-odd hours” they work takes them to about seven in the morning, which is quite late in the day for a meal. They also saw visits to branches as “stressful”, with some staff genuinely afraid to leave their desk in case they were out of contact with colleagues, while a fifth of customers said they had been asked by staff to leave their card up to a week or two before it was due to be cashed in.

So the outlook for Scotland is actually quite good: bonus cash, less tension. But it’s a very different story for branch staff who will be forced to do a week of 30-plus hours, including two weekends. In 2013, 89% of branch staff gave branch branches a bad rating in a survey of their satisfaction with their work, with 64% saying that the pay structure for branch staff was “very important” to them. Perhaps perhaps this is what Scotland can expect.

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