Is bank closure on alternate Saturdays fair to us?
Keeping banks closed on two Saturdays in a month is non-productive and does not help either banks or its customers. Instead, bank employees who will work on Saturdays should be given a day off on any alternate days like hospitals, public transport and other essential services
 
Wage settlement with Bank Unions
After protracted negotiations, the Bank Unions and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) have signed the 10th bipartite settlement on the 25 May 2015 paving the way for revision in wages and perks to nearly a million employees of the banking industry. This is, no doubt, beneficial to bank employees but is a great relief to bank customers as well, because, this agreement was preceded by series of bank strikes, causing considerable inconvenience to bank customers, who were only silent spectators to this saga of industrial disputes recurring every five years. 
 
The agreement increases bank employees’ salaries by about 15% coupled with improvements in various perquisites and medical insurance scheme for the families of employees. For the first time, there is the benefit of ‘paternity leave’ granted to male employees of banks from June 2015. Every male employee with less than two surviving children shall be eligible for 15 days of paternity leave during his wife’s confinement. This is certainly a family welfare measure and is a welcome change in the employer-employee relations. 
 
Banks to remain closed on alternate Saturdays: 
Another important improvement in employee welfare is the decision to declare holidays on every second and fourth Saturday of the month. This is a great achievement for bank unions, who have been asking for five-day week on the lines of the Central Government offices. The IBA finally conceded and agreed to treat second and fourth Saturdays of the month as holidays and other Saturdays, as full working days. This change will be effective after approval by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and notification of the change is issued by the union government. 
 
The demand of bank employees’ is reasonable as their counterparts in most state government offices too enjoy similar facility. But does this serve the needs of bank customers? Is it beneficial for banks to keep their branches closed on alternate Saturdays as agreed to with employee unions?
 
Looking from the angle of banks as well as their customers, this proposition is not in the interest of banks and their customers for the following reasons: 
1. In the good old days, banks used to function in two shifts in residential areas keeping their doors open till late in the evening for customers’ convenience. But this system of working in two shifts has been quietly given a go by and today almost all the banks function continuously from 10am to 5pm. This makes a large number of customers to visit their banks mostly on Saturdays. But if banks are closed on alternate Saturdays, such customers, who are unable to visit branches on week days, will be put to considerable inconvenience. 
 
2. The biggest advantage of keeping banks open on Saturdays is for the small traders and shopkeepers, who invariably keep their shops, open all days during the week. They can reduce their risk of holding cash in their tills at least by a day by depositing such cash with the bank on Saturdays. This also helps them to bring down their interest costs by a day’s interest every week, if they have borrowing accounts with banks. But keeping the banks closed on two Saturdays will totally negate these benefits for the common people.
 
3. Our country has a large number of illiterate and semi-literate people, who require detailed guidance from the banks’ staff in banking systems and procedures, and this is possible mostly on Saturdays, as work pressure is much less on those days compared to week days. But this advantage to banks’ customers would be completely lost, if banks are kept closed on two Saturdays in a month. 
 
4. The  Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana has brought in additional 14 crore people in to the banking fold and it is a onerous responsibility for the banks to service these large number of additional customers, who need to be handled with abundant patience to keep these accounts alive. Otherwise, they will remain inoperative and the entire efforts of the banks and the government will be totally lost to the detriment of banks’ interest. And it is here that working on Saturdays will come in handy for banks to take care of their requirements and keep those accounts alive. 
 
5. Banks in India are already losing the trust and confidence of the public, which is evident from the fact that during 2014-2015, growth of deposits with banks has hit a 51 year low of 11.42% as per the report of RBI. The last time deposits grew at a pace below this was in 1962-63, when the increase was 6.5%. This is mainly because, banks have introduced restrictive practices like levying charges for depositing cash with banks and for withdrawing their own money through ATMs beyond certain limits, enhancing minimum balance required to be maintained in savings accounts and charging even for sending transaction alerts through SMSs to customers. Therefore, keeping bank branches closed on alternate Saturdays will only result in further alienation of loyal customers, who will divert their savings to other savings instruments, which are hassle free and more convenient to deal with.  
 
6. Even from the angle of improving business, the proposal to keep banks closed on alternate Saturdays will have a negative impact, as it will only result in driving the white collared salaried class bank customers away from banks. For their home loans, vehicle loans and personal loans, these customers would go to non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs), who will welcome them with open arms on all six days of the week. As per the RBI report, the credit growth in banks last year hit a 20-year low of 9.75%, and it would only worsen, if banks shut off their branches on two Saturdays in a month. 
 
7.  “The 15% wage revision would cost banks Rs4,725 crore as incremental salary and allowances in a year. If superannuation cost is included, then the total burden would be around Rs8,370 crore,” IBA Chairman TM Bhasin told reporters after signing the 10th Bipartite agreement. If this additional burden is to be recouped, banks should look at optimisation of their resources and infrastructure and try to increase their overall business, by improving service and quicker decision making at all levels. Keeping the banks closed even for two days in a month is not the answer. 
 
8. Two of the large public sector banks have declared huge losses during the last quarter of last financial year, indicating stress and strain in their operations. Only time alone will tell whether they will turn around or go deep into red in the coming quarters, but the need to increase low cost deposits by banks to improve the profitability of banks is imperative. And this can be achieved only by keeping the banks open on all Saturdays to provide convenient banking to the public and attract more customers. 
 
What is the alternative?
It is obvious; therefore, that the proposal of keeping banks closed on two Saturdays in a month is non-productive and does not help either the banks or its customers. This certainly does not mean that the bank employees do not deserve a day each off on two weekends in a month, which they have secured after hard bargaining and long struggle over the years. Bank employees have to be very diligent in their day to day work as they deal with public money and cannot afford to be lax even for a minute while at work.  Banking jobs are much more risky than similar jobs in other offices, and therefore, bank employees certainly need to relax more than others in the interest of maintaining their health during their working life. 
 
So what is the alternative? The best alternative under the circumstances is to keep the banks open for full six days in a week, but give a day off on any alternate day for those employees who are required to work on Saturdays in rotation, so that the employees get an extra day off once in 15 days as per the commitment already given by the IBA to bank unions. This is akin to how institutions like hospitals, public transport and other essential services work by providing alternate holiday to those who work during the week ends. This will be a win-win situation to all stake holders and more importantly, banks will be able to attract support of those customers who are unable to visit the bank during working days. 
 
If the RBI has the interest of banks and its customers at heart, this is an opportunity for the central bank to radically change working hours of banks. RBI can ask banks to keep their branches open for full six days in a week leaving them to manage their employees by giving alternate holidays to honour commitment made by IBA to bank unions. 
 
In the ultimate analysis, if customers are satisfied they will patronise the banks which will in turn prosper, and if banks prosper, they will pamper their employees who will also prosper, and if banks and employees prosper, the whole economy will prosper. 
 
The key to prosperity, therefore, is customer satisfaction in any business, more so in a service industry like banking. Let us, therefore, unlock the banking system of our country through this single key for the prosperity of all. 
 
(The author is a banking analyst, writing for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’)
 
Comments
Sandip Panigrahi
6 years ago
Indian private banks are known to be work power houses,literally sucking the blood of each and every employees.While the entire work culture of the country is bad, banks are more so.Employees should have life of their own,in West all banks stick to working hours and all businesses are closed on weekends.In short, there is life beyond 'credit growth,money etc.'.Work-life balance is most important.
Srinivas
Replied to Sandip Panigrahi comment 6 years ago
Hi Sandip,

I agree with your opinion. These private banks dont treat employees as humans. They are violating the human rights. My relative is reaching home everyday after 10:00 PM after this announcement.
Raman Sairam
6 years ago
now a days net banking atm fund transfermobile money transfer are available.it is easier,faster,relaible and secure.why still you need more dependent on physical presence with bank for transaction
Raman Sairam
6 years ago
now a days net banking atm fund transfermobile money transfer are available.it is easier,faster,relaible and secure.why still you need more dependent on physical presence with bank for transaction
Ayan
6 years ago
Well said [email protected] author has no inkling of what it means to work day-in and day-out at a branch...after 6 days of work u just get a day to attend to your personal work/life n the next day again u are expected to work at a stretch for 6 days more all along with public pressure, mgmt abuses and deadlines, targets etc...y keep the bankers always in a pressure cooker like situation, as rightly pointed out there are many alternate channels available n closing banks for "just"2 saturdays will rather give these channels a further push and promote public acceptance...wages have increased 15% but DA has been reduced from 110% to 33.7% with the result that the wage increase amount is so paltry at the present that it feels like an annual increment rather than a wage revision...
Sathi Nair
6 years ago
Views expressed are absurd.Now a days e banking is more prominent and customers are ready to bear the "inconvenience" of e banking.All days except Saturdays and Sundays are available for banking.Further every one should be ready to compare the wage structure of Central Govt Employees with that of commercial banks.Then only you can see the hardships of bank staff. In fact banking service is also an all India service and thereby the salary structure and other perks should be comparable with central govt employees.
Himanshu
6 years ago
Well, this man says that bank personnels, who are working on saturdays should be given leave on any other day of the week. So what he implies is that suppose a bank has a staff of 5 people and if any employee who worked on a saturday, then that person should be given leave on any other day like it happens in Railways, Electricity, transport department.

But let me surprise this man, by saying that no matter how much he thinks in the best interest of the nation this is not going to work in banking sector that too public sector banks. The reasons are obvious but still I would like to point them out for him:

1. Staff counts in many branches is just enough to get the work completed. A single person missing behind the counter brings the whole branch down. There are lot of branches where the staff count is just 2, yes TWO, number which precedes ONE. In those branches one person takes leave in lieu of working on saturday, then I dont think any work can be done, because our GURPUR who claims to be a banking expert/analytic but I don't think he is aware that all transactions needs to be verified by the other person working in the branch that too before the day end. I think this is a news for him.
2. The off on 2nd and 4th saturday of the month is nothing extra that bank employees are getting. They will have to work full day on other saturdays. But GURPUR seems to be unaware of the fact.
3. Many people believe that banks function just from 10:00AM to 5:00PM. Well it does on papers. and it may be true in case of small branch or rural branches. But in a normal urban or semi-urban branch the staff reaches the office before 9:30 AM in the morning and if lucky leaves by 7:00 PM in the night. This is exactly 2.5 hours extra per day. This doe not includes working on sundays on every month end, quarter end and during audit time. I think will all this lot of work load on bank staff they deserve a little time off. so they can enjoy like anyone else with their family and friends.
4. Banks working hours on saturdays is usually from 10:00 Am to 1:30 PM i.e 3.5 hours. With this age of internet and mobiles, it is too naive to say that a saturday off will bring down the nation. NEFT/RTGS timings won't be affected by this initiatve. There are ATMs to withdraw cash, there are Cash Deposit KIOSKS for depositing cash, Cheque Deposit KIOSKs for depositing cheques, you can create FD online or from an ATM, you can transfer money using net banking, IMPS or USSD and many other online facilities are available. In other words there are alternatives which can serve the public for 4 hours or even more.
5. Even though the branches are closed, still a whole lot of staff will be working 24X7, just to make sure ATMs are working, inernet banking is online, IMPS, USSD are working and other products like credit card, debit card are used without any problem.

There are many more reasons which state that getting off on 2nd and 4th saturday is not a big deal. Bankers deserved it, they fought for it and they got it. You seem to think otherwise but truth is that India as a nation should have 5 day banking. Banks just like any other central government department or a MNC should be closed on every saturday and sunday.
pannvalan
Replied to Himanshu comment 6 years ago
The general tendency of majority of the educated people has been "Whenever and wherever I want to do my banking activity, banks shall be kept open". People with such unrealistic expectation wants buses and trains also to run all the 24 hours on 365 days of the year. So, can we expect the Central and State governments to run trains/buses at odd hours when there will be only 5% of the commuters travelling by them, as compared to the total capacity of such transport vehicles. Let us remember that during odd hours and at remote places, getting autos and taxis (or even ambulance) is impossible. Those who cannot plan and schedule their banking needs, blame the banks for their failures. As I always tell, except 3% of the population, who are mostly traders and other businessmen, the rest of the society do not visit their bank every day. At the best, they may visit their bank only twice or thrice during the first week of each month. In the later part of the whole month, they may visit their bank, not more than twice. So, please shed the attitude and anticipation that whenever I want a facility, it shall be readily made available to me, regardless of the date and time. It is wrong and wholly unjustified.
Himanshu
6 years ago
Well, this man says that bank personnels, who are working on saturdays should be given leave on any other day of the week. So what he implies is that suppose a bank has a staff of 5 people and if any employee who worked on a saturday, then that person should be given leave on any other day like it happens in Railways, Electricity, transport department.

But let me surprise this man, by saying that no matter how much he thinks in the best interest of the nation this is not going to work in banking sector that too public sector banks. The reasons are obvious but still I would like to point them out for him:

1. Staff counts in many branches is just enough to get the work completed. A single person missing behind the counter brings the whole branch down. There are lot of branches where the staff count is just 2, yes TWO, number which precedes ONE. In those branches one person takes leave in lieu of working on saturday, then I dont think any work can be done, because our GURPUR who claims to be a banking expert/analytic but I don't think he is aware that all transactions needs to be verified by the other person working in the branch that too before the day end. I think this is a news for him.
2. The off on 2nd and 4th saturday of the month is nothing extra that bank employees are getting. They will have to work full day on other saturdays. But GURPUR seems to be unaware of the fact.
3. Many people believe that banks function just from 10:00AM to 5:00PM. Well it does on papers. and it may be true in case of small branch or rural branches. But in a normal urban or semi-urban branch the staff reaches the office before 9:30 AM in the morning and if lucky leaves by 7:00 PM in the night. This is exactly 2.5 hours extra per day. This doe not includes working on sundays on every month end, quarter end and during audit time. I think will all this lot of work load on bank staff they deserve a little time off. so they can enjoy like anyone else with their family and friends.
4. Banks working hours on saturdays is usually from 10:00 Am to 1:30 PM i.e 3.5 hours. With this age of internet and mobiles, it is too naive to say that a saturday off will bring down the nation. NEFT/RTGS timings won't be affected by this initiatve. There are ATMs to withdraw cash, there are Cash Deposit KIOSKS for depositing cash, Cheque Deposit KIOSKs for depositing cheques, you can create FD online or from an ATM, you can transfer money using net banking, IMPS or USSD and many other online facilities are available. In other words there are alternatives which can serve the public for 4 hours or even more.
5. Even though the branches are closed, still a whole lot of staff will be working 24X7, just to make sure ATMs are working, inernet banking is online, IMPS, USSD are working and other products like credit card, debit card are used without any problem.

There are many more reasons which state that getting off on 2nd and 4th saturday is not a big deal. Bankers deserved it, they fought for it and they got it. You seem to think otherwise but truth is that India as a nation should have 5 day banking. Banks just like any other central government department or a MNC should be closed on every saturday and sunday.
Dhrity Borah
6 years ago
mr/mrs/miss gurpur.. you have given a lot of suggestions for the country any specially the role of bank/bankers... I have only one suggestion to be brave enough to use your real name. now lets talk about your suugestions-
"Our country has a large number of illiterate and semi-literate people, who require detailed guidance from the banks’ staff in banking systems and procedures,........completely lost, if banks are kept closed on two Saturdays in a month."..
lets believe you and say der r less work then what harm will it create to society if that LESS WORK is not done. If you really think of the country so much then come out of your comfort zone and write a single article in the bank's premise in a remote area.... JUST once
Surya
6 years ago
Dear Mr.Gurpur,
Request you to work in a bank in the present scenario with extremely high targets, demanding customers, accountability issues, etc. And then rewrite the above mentioned article. You only seem to be an analyst and nothing more. You just don't seem to understand that the people in the bank are also humans like you. They don't get their time to sit and write articles as you are getting to write. Think before you write anything.
Deepak Sharma
6 years ago
Dear writer, bankers are also human being .They also have the family and social life with whom they want to live.Central and state government offices like revenue, excise , sales department who are much more important in building country,s economy also close for saturday.Then why is this partiality with us .We use to stay at such far remote areas where there are no basic amenities like road electricity , sanitation etc .We also need relaxity for our better health and social life.
aki
6 years ago
bankers are also human beings. it is forgotten in every discussion.

My cousin is a banker and i have seen his pathetic situation.

no regulated working hours. he is working 14 to 15 hours a day.

They are working on all holidays.

you can always keep people working on the basis of pressure and fear. but it will prove that we expect ourselves to be treated as humans but we do not think of others as the same.

aki
6 years ago
dear sir

as per your above said reasons as to why banks should be kept open on Saturdays, i would like to say that:

-> There is a huge pressure on bank employees in the public sector banks.
It is very much necessary to provide Saturday off in order to relieve stress and tension.

-> Earlier when Saturday was a half day, staff had to work on Saturdays and Sundays. Now atleast one of these days will be a holiday.

->As of bank work environment, it is deteriorating every day. Atleast a day holiday will make it less painful to work in the bank.

-> First, Third and Fifth saturdays are full working days.

-> Settlement is on Full payslip for 15% and not in salary.Salary is much less.

->Businessmen always want that the banks be opened, even if the businessmen are on leave.

-> At Last, an analyst should analyse all the sides of the industry and not only on the keywords in order to get in google list of top 10.
Jyotishman Sharma
6 years ago
I will not go into technicalities, i will just quote my story. My pregnant wife did all her tests ALONE, i have spent just 8 days with my newborn son, am i not human?
And regarding that suggestion on leave on rotation on an ad-hoc basis. We bankers know what will happen right? The higher bosses will simply refuse...
Its we humans who make the banks, and if we are not taken care of, where will your banks head?
Shabnam Malik
6 years ago
But, a banker is also a HUMAN. He would be serving custoemrs all his life and would never get time for his family. Already, our working hours are not regulated, atleast, a day off can help us do the tasks, a banker doesn''t get time for in the whole week. From human persepective, productivity is also increased when we feel in human way. A mechanical life can not make us a better employee.
We earn for family...it is of no use if we dont get to see our family for months...everything is manageable only if all of us try.
sunlight
6 years ago
mr.pannavalan is correct at his side.but nearly fifty percent of the cash transactions are failure without cash ( even Rs.200- ).The customer have to visit the parent branch to make the request.if you are reducing your working days how is it possible.First of all, make arrangements to avoid debit transaction if the ATM is without cash or unable to disburse the cash.mr.pannavalan have to blame the adminstration not the public.
pannvalan
Replied to sunlight comment 6 years ago
At the most, only 2 out of 150 transactions fail, due to reasons like sudden power failure, loss of network connectivity, technical problems between the bank whose ATM is used and the card issuing bank etc. But, such problems get resolved within 5 working days. For lodging complaints, one need not visit one's home branch. Online complaints or complaints through SMS or complaints through all India Helpline can be made very easily. One point I am unable to understand. Why people visit ATMs every two days or three days in a week?
sunlight
Replied to pannvalan comment 6 years ago
unable to disburse cash due to power failure and network connectivity is correct.But one point I am unable to understand. why the banks not make arrangements to avoid cash debit transactions if the ATM is without cash. people have to visit the ATM whenever they are in need of money.visiting the ATM is not the problem.receiving the money from the bank ( not ATM ) is problem. using online is not possible for all time and not economical for all. persons having ATM/debit cards are not having full details about the product (even to change the pass-word ). most of the persons ( they are educated or not ) are visitng the ATM without the knowledge of using ATM because of hurry for the money.only two out of 150 is not correct.
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