HSBC UK: Bank cuts staff pay & bonuses, while keeping performance pay

Image copyright PA Image caption HSBC says it “takes its environmental leadership seriously”

A major UK bank says it is cutting staff pay while maintaining the same or slightly higher rate of performance bonuses.

HSBC says it will now employ a “rotational workweek” where some staff work fewer days over the month and others are paid per hour.

Some staff will also receive more flexible working arrangements.

HSBC is the first major bank to shift to this system, which is being introduced in its retail banking arm in the UK.

The bank says it expects the new arrangements to save more than £100m a year.

“We take our environmental leadership seriously and recognise this new framework will free up resources to invest in our people and our core financial services,” said HSBC UK UK Retail Banking and Wealth Management’s head of People and Culture, Sharon Pohlson.

HSBC says it is taking on a system that other global companies, including many technology companies, have already adopted.

From 1 August 2019, all retail bank staff will work a four-day week for three of those days.

For the remaining day staff will be paid a daily rate, as they would under a “regular business day work week”, as well as performance bonus payments.

There will be no immediate change in how the bank pays staff, it says.

Some staff will see their hourly rate rise in line with inflation, while others will earn an hourly rate above the rate currently given to those who work a full week.

As before, redundancy payments will also be linked to performance.

The bank believes the new changes will also make it easier for staff to manage and analyse their productivity.


The move does mean that HSBC expects to be hiring as well as making redundancies.

However, its retail banking website appeared to be currently in the process of turning on the additional pay.

The Financial Times quoted an HSBC spokeswoman as saying that such systems can take time to evolve, so the bank is advising employees to be patient.

The bank is due to report its half-year results in July.

How the bank intends to cut costs was not clear.

The Financial Times quoted consultants McKinsey as saying that deploying five staff per square metre – the typical standard size for an office – could lead to savings of £1.2bn a year.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Theresa May might be more likely to think this change is good news than a regressive policy

The UK’s National Federation of Plumbers has criticised HSBC’s decision, saying that the company “had no opportunity to demonstrate its local value or commitment to the communities where it operates”.

Anne Glover, business justice spokesperson for UK Uncut, said that banks already paid the equivalent of average full-time salaries and many people complained about unfair pay practices.

“But there are legitimate concerns that many could be adversely affected by any cuts in pay.

“In many cases, employees cannot easily move from the same workplace for a regular six days a week to another bank for a full week and some staff may lose out in part-time jobs which might provide flexible arrangements.”

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