Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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Banks to provide basic services, business hours to be curtailed

The Indian Banks’ Association has advised its member banks to provide basic banking services within restricted business hours till 2 pm as a business continuity plan in response to the surge in coronavirus cases. The banking body has laid out standard operating procedures (SOP) for bank branches but stressed on state-wise modification of Covid time guidelines depending on the gravity of the situation in respective states.

At its managing committee meeting held Wednesday, IBA said that banks would continue providing four basic banking services — accepting deposits, cash withdrawals, remittance and government businesses employees may be working on rotation as a business continuity plan.

The state level bankers’ committees (SLBC) could modify the SOP as per the prevailing situation and needs in respective states, IBA said in its advisory, considering that there is no nationwide lockdown this time and states are issuing relevant guidelines. SLBC will decide whether additional services over the four basis ones would be provided under the existing situation of their state or union territory.

“Employees may be called on rotational basis or be allowed to work from home as the case may be depending on the nature of job, staff position and size of the establishment, ideally 50% of the employees may be called for “in person” duty and on rotation basis,” the advisory said.

Business hours of the banks could be restricted to 10am -2pm. Doorstep banking activities should be encouraged, it read. But it was not clear how doorstep banking can be promoted during such crisis time with half employee strength.

SLBCs in Bihar and West Bengal already advised its members to curtail banking hours till 2 pm even before the IBA circular.

In the second wave of the Covid-19, different state governments have issued various guidelines curbing movement of people and vehicles. Banking activities were in a reviving mode but with this sudden resurgence of the mutant coronavirus, banking and bank employees are facing the impact. Infection rates among the bank employees is quite alarming, IBA noted.

Last year when the pandemic started, IBA had appealed to bank customers to avail limited services at bank branches so that physical visits of customers to banks could be avoided as far as possible.

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