Family friendly breakthrough at VMO2 as members accept special cost of living payments

Telecoms & Financial Services, VMO2


Members in VMO2 have voted by nearly nine-to-one to accept a significantly improved pay settlement for 2022 amid parallel company moves to significantly improve its family friendly offering to employees.

The CWU-supported pay deal – which was backed by 85.7% of those participating in a consultative ballot that closed on Wednesday – means most members will have received an overall rise (in cash terms) equating to up to 10% of their salary, dependent on their grade this year.

Members in O2 stores fare even better because, added to the 10% increase they received in January as part of a negotiated absorption of unpredictable target-driven bonus payments into base pay, the lump sum ‘Cost of Living Allowance’ payments brings their overall pay increase for 2022 in cash terms to around 17%.

But the good news doesn’t end there, because VMO2 has also unveiled a complete overhaul of its family friendly policies – bringing together the best that previously existed in Virgin Media and O2, along with some enhancements, into a single harmonised approach.

Following discussions with the CWU, the family friendly improvements will benefit all employees who are welcoming a new addition to the family or dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of neonatal emergencies which result in the hospitalisation of newborn babies.

  • For former O2 employees, paid Maternity and Adoption entitlements increase from 14 to 26 weeks (subject to qualifying service), while Paternity leave continues at  14 weeks (also subject to qualifying service)
  • For former Virgin Media employees, Paternity Leave increases from 2 to 14 weeks
  • In the case of serious neonatal complications, an entitlement of up to 12 weeks paid leave is extended to all employees, with no qualifying service requirement.

The new harmonised arrangements – which came into force on September 26 – also include the best of either the former O2 or VM policies covering emergency leave, bereavement, pregnancy loss and caring & parental leave.

  • For former  O2 employees, Carer’s Leave (5 days) and Pregnancy Loss Leave (10 days) are new
  • For former VM employees, Carer’s Leave (5 days) and Pregnancy Loss Leave (10 days) are also new – while entitlements to paid bereavement leave increases from 5 to 10 days.

Meanwhile, the company has also advised the CWU that it is introducing an industry-leading Trans Healthcare benefit under which it has committed to fund gender-affirming surgery and gender identity support for Trans and non-binary employees.

Outlined in detail in VMO2 Members’ Bulletin 160/2022, the move places VMO2 firmly in the vanguard of companies offering progressive support for Trans employees.

CWU national officer for VMO2 Tracey Fussey explains: “Both the harmonised and enhanced family friendly policies and the new Trans Healthcare Benefit are hugely welcome – but it is the latter which really sets VMO2 apart from the crowd.

“Very few employers are even looking at offering the level of support for Trans employees that VMO2 is introducing, and the company can justly be proud of the trail it is blazing.”

Thanking members for their staunch support of the CWU’s negotiating stance on pay throughout the difficult  negotiations that followed members’ 95.7%  consultative ballot rejection of the unagreed below-inflation two year package that VMO2 unilaterally imposed in March, Tracey continued “There’s no doubt the overall cash settlement we’ve secured for lower paid members this year has provided a lifeline for those worst affected by the cost of living crisis.

“VMO2 deserves credit for listening to the financial concerns of its workforce, articulated through our representations, and applying the improved offer beyond our recognised bargaining unit.”

Reflecting on the fact that, from the very outset, it was the CWU alone that championed the need for a rethink on this year’s pay settlement, Tracey concludes:  “2023 becomes the starting point for genuine talks on next year’s pay round and there could hardly be a clearer demonstration of the benefits of the collective voice provided by a recognised trade union throughout these discussions.”

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