Covid-19 scare! Will banks reduce working hours?

Covid-19 scare! Will banks reduce working hours?

New Delhi: With a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the country, bank unions are now showing their concerns towards bank employees. Bank unions are requesting safety measures for workers. They have now urged the Ministry of Finance to reduce the working days while seeking permission to run bank branches with a bare minimum staff.

United Forum of Bank Unions’ (UFBU) Convenor Sanjeev K Bandlish wrote a letter to Debasish Panda, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, saying, “As was implemented last year, there is a necessity to restrict physical banking for next 4-6 months. Banks may be advised to reduce working hours (say from 10 am to 2 pm).”

UFBU is an organisation that represents nine banking unions across the country. Bandlish also noted that banking should be restricted to 5 days a week to break the chain. “This would cut the exposure of bank employees and the customers to a great extent without impairing services,” he added.

UFBU also urged for the introduction of hub banking. The organisation suggested that instead of opening all branches, banks can offer banking facilities at a few select branches that will protect many bank workers from coming in contact with the coronavirus, thereby reducing the risk of catching Covid-19.

In the letter, UFBU also requested to allow bank employees to work from home. “We call upon you to instruct all the banks to deploy minimum possible staff/officers at branches/offices. Measures like working with 1/3rd of staff strength, work from home, should be implemented for next 4-6 months. Staff/Officers to be called on rotation so that exposure is reduced,” said Bandlish.

The UDBU Convenor also urged the ministry to prioritise vaccination for bank workers. “Considering the nature of work, coming in contact with hundreds of customers every day, bankmen carry higher risk. Having considered as Frontline Covid Warriors by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, we call upon you to initiate measures to provide vaccination to all bankmen.”