Take £900 of my £4052 pension in Clawback.

Denise started working for Midland Bank at 328 High Street, West Bromwich in 1970. In those days it had 45 staff, including messengers. When asking the manager about a career in the bank she was told “You can’t take exams to further a career because “you will be leaving to have your babies”.

She recalls that “females couldn’t have loans or study leave. In fact when I worked at the sub office the men went there in a taxi because they carried the cash, and the girls had to catch the bus.” It wasn’t until 1976 that staff mortgages for females were allowed. Yet it was a great branch to work at, and she met so many wonderful people during her time working at the bank, many of whom are still friends 50 years later.

Denise left to have her son in 1984. At the end of maternity leave, she was given the choice of returning full time, or leaving. No part time contracts were on offer then. In reality, it was no choice as they had moved after marriage, and the commute would not have been viable.

She began working again in 1987 on an “auxiliary” contract, today known as zero hours contracts). She was ‘on call’ at all branches in the Lichfield area when they were short staffed.” It was heads down and get on with it” she remembers, with no time to really get to know anyone. As her children grew, she gradually increased her hours of working, but even the occasional 25 hour fixed term contract did not qualify for pension. It was 1994 before she secured a permanent part time job, with pension, at Hednesford, Staffordshire.

Ever since 1987, Denise had noticed changes happening in the branches, notably unpaid overtime. Branch opening hours of 9am-5pm meant arriving at 08:45 to start serving customers from 9am, and stay until after 5pm to put the cash away. She remembers bitterly being told “HSBC doesn’t pay overtime and you don’t have to work for the bank if you don’t like it.” Whilst sometimes receiving a thank you for all her extra efforts, it never seemed to be remembered when they were allocating pay rises. She advises that “I had to go in during Christmas and New Year bank holidays to stock up the ATM which, whilst paid, interrupted my time spent with the family.” Plus being one of the staff often called back to the branch in the evenings to handle problems with the alarms.

Pensions were mentioned in 1994, but nothing about clawback. At an appraisal meeting several years later, she recalls asking about her reward package, only to be told “you are paid less than some of your colleagues because you have a ‘free’ pension.” She mentions being frequently told “it’s all about give and take.” Sadly it was the staff that did the giving and the bank all the taking!

It is no wonder that Denise is irate, believing that she had earned this pension as part of her reward package. “I cannot understand why the bank feels that they are now entitled to take £900 of my £4052 pension in clawback.” A caring employer? I think not.  

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