Extended service hours create new jobs in Royal Mail Customer Experience


Sara Wright & Sue Owen

CWU seals deal converting temporary roles to permanent and extending dozens of fixed-term contracts as RMCE trials 21 extra customer service hours across the week…

Between now and the end of January 2022, Royal Mail’s Monday-to-Friday Customer Service operation will open for business one hour earlier each day and close two hours later, enabling customers to call in from 7am until 8pm, while the existing 1pm ‘weekend hang-up’ will be extended until 4pm.

“This is all part of the gradual transition towards an enhanced customer offer which is necessary to help support the development of Royal Mail,” explains CWU assistant secretary Andy. “It’s the Pathway to Change agenda in action, growing and developing the company with new products and services whilst providing customers with excellent quality of service and, crucially, ensuring our members benefit in terms of job security, new and innovative attendance patterns and the shorter working week.”

This pilot, which began this week and runs for the next five months, has already given permanent contracts to the 15 longest serving temporary-contract workers.

And if the trial is a success – in terms of a sustained increase in customer-call volumes – there will be potentially many more permanent roles made available to our members.

“We’ll be looking for future permanent contracts to be offered to the remaining 69 fixed-term contract workers who have had their FTCs extended until January as a result of this extension,” says Andy.

The Sunday operation will continue to be resourced on the basis of scheduled attendance.

Sue Owen and Sara Wright represent CWU members at RMCE’s two biggest sites in Plymouth and Doxford (Sunderland) respectively and have worked with the company on the Resourcing and Opening Hours Joint Working Group to get this project up and running.

Sue says: “We wanted to make sure nobody was forced to change their shifts and so we asked for volunteers. We weren’t sure we’d get enough people choosing to work different hours – either starting earlier or finishing later – but in the end we got 95 volunteers and that was enough.

“It worked out alright in the end and, since we went live with the trial this week, we’ve already received thousands of extra customer calls during these extended hours. It’s grown as the week has gone on – and we haven’t even started advertising it yet.”

Sara adds that the key aim of the CWU representatives was that nobody should be compelled to change their shift pattern, adding that, across the RMCE operation, “there are a lot of different shifts – some are on four-day or five-day duties and daily hours can vary as well.

“It’s good that we’ve managed to work together to make this about voluntary choice and recruitment of new staff, rather than imposed change,” she points out, adding: “We hope there can be more conversions to permanent roles going forward.”

Andy Furey has thanked Sue and Sara for their “hard work and imaginative thinking and for helping to shape the direction of this project, which already appears to be showing promising results, and particularly for their determination to achieve change with volunteers.”