One of the announcements today has been the Society’s proposal to permanently close the Optimus, Pegasus, and Wakefield House buildings. Some employees have contracts which specifically give one of those buildings as their place of work; we have agreed that the contractual place of work should change to Nationwide House for these employees. (Other employees have contracts which state that their place of work is ‘one of the buildings in the Swindon area’, so there will be no changes to their contracts, nor for those employees who are on a formal homeworking contract.
Clearly, for the time being, the change will be of little practical effect as so many people are working from home under Government regulations and guidance. Once things have returned to a more normal situation, the place of work will be important for determining where business mileage may be claimed from, etc., but most people, most of the time, will have considerable flexibility in where they actually work from, as a result of the other announcements today.
When the three buildings were initially closed last Autumn, there was a process of individual consultation to determine whether anybody would face particular challenges as a result. In most cases, we would expect any measures put in place as a result of those consultations to be maintained, although it may well be appropriate to review these arrangements in light of the closures becoming permanent.
With the exception of the small number of people on formal homeworking contracts, there is no general contractual requirement to work from home once the pandemic regulations have been lifted. This is why we feel it’s so important to have the commitment from Nationwide that anyone who wants a desk can have one for whatever reason. This might be for wellbeing or unsuitable arrangements at home – and people’s situations may change over time – or an increase in costs arising from homeworking (e.g., utility bills) that are not mitigated by a reduction in travel costs.
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