Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Banks convert existing infrastructure into Covid centres for employees

Leading Indian banks have started creating health infrastructure on their premises as the second wave of the pandemic hits the sector much harder, especially affecting branch employees who have been exempted from local curbs on activities.
has converted its training centres in Pune, Bhubaneswar and Gurgaon into isolation centres to deal with Covid-19-related emergencies for employees with symptoms. The bank has also tied up with hotels across the country for rooms.

The banking system – considered an essential service – has been impacted to a larger extent in the second wave as employees continued to work even after several state governments announced restrictions on activities. Banks are now saddled with thousands of employees and their family members looking at them for help as they battle the virus.

“We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the best possible help and medical care are given to our employees,” said Ashima Bhat, group head – finance, administration, infrastructure & CSR, at HDFC Bank.

Banks across India are using their existing facilities to help employees.

“For all our employees and their family members fighting against Covid and for those who are in need of urgent help with regard to availability of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and medicines, we have set up a dedicated helpdesk,” said Sukhjit Singh Pasricha, group chief human resource officer at


“We recognise that this wave has affected our employees to a much greater extent than the first. We followed an established playbook – transitioning seamlessly from hybrid to WFH for our large corporate offices in mid-March and following guidance from the regulator and local authorities on staff attendance in branches and regional centres,” said Rajkamal Vempati, head of human resources at Axis Bank.

Even as banks create taskforces and repurpose their infrastructure, there are certain employees who are sometimes forgotten: the security guards and the teams that move cash.

“Banks need cash van staff to keep ATMs operational and people performing such roles are frontline essential services workers. These are minimum wage level workers who don’t get benefits and insurance cover like government employees, yet their spirit is inspirational,” said Rituraj Sinha, group managing director of Security and Intelligence Services, a BSE-listed security services provider.

Some banks have started tying up with doctors who could guide employees in dealing with their Covid-19-related fears. About 1.5 million people are employed across Indian banks.

In some cases, bank employees living in the metros are unable to undertake home quarantine and some banks have converted part of their property for the benefit of such staffers.

Several banks have formed taskforces or core groups of senior bankers that are required to focus only on helping their colleagues.

“This group of colleagues leverages professional and personal connections to ensure employees are able to access medicine, oxygen and hospital beds to the extent possible,” said a banker.

“A Quick Response Team (QRT) headed by a General Manager has been set up at Corporate Centre for monitoring the COVID position at the whole Bank level,” said Rana Ashutosh Kumar Singh, DMD (HR) & Corporate Development Officer,

. “Similar teams headed by Deputy General Managers have been set up in all 17 Circles for monitoring the COVID situation in their area and providing assistance to staff and their family members.”

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