The finance Ministry has requested the Union Home and Health Ministries to enable Covid-19 vaccination on “priority basis” to bank staff and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) employees regardless of age, who are on the “frontline and dealing with customers and critical infrastructure for seamless banking and payment system.” This will help bank employees get vaccination regardless of age.
“This will go a long way in assuring them about the safety of themselves and their families and will boost their morale in continuing to provide their best services to their customers,” the Department of Financial Services (DFS) in the Finance Ministry said in a letter on Wednesday to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The Department noted the crucial efforts of bankers over the past one year in ensuring that bank branches remain open and functional, and providing the complete suite of banking services to their customers. The DFS highlighted the critical role played by the NPCI staff in ensuring that the electronic and digital payment channels were operational seamlessly.
This was despite issues on mobility of bank staff to their place of work and issues in adhering to social distancing norms and other precautions. “The effort of bank staff was even more important in view of the disbursal and withdrawal of benefits transferred by the government to beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,” it said.
In separate letters to the Finance Ministry, Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), HDFC Bank and NPCI had sought inclusion of the bank staff in the vaccination priority list. As of now, healthcare and frontline workers are part of the priority list and are allowed vaccination regardless of age. The government has also allowed vaccination of everyone above 45 years of age as the second Covid wave has gripped the country.
The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) wrote to the Finance Ministry on February 1, requesting inclusion of bankers in the priority list of free vaccinations. “The matter was discussed in the meeting of managing committee of IBA held on 15 January, wherein a strong consensus was arrived for requesting the government to include the bank employees in the priority list for free vaccinations,” IBA said in its letter to the DFS.
Of the total staff of 13.5 lakh, around 600 employees of state-owned banks, private banks, foreign banks, payments banks, and small finance banks have lost their lives during the pandemic as of December 31, 2020, IBA said in its letter to Finance Ministry.
“Bank employees too have been braving all odds and delivering banking services to customers across the country during the pandemic,” HDFC Bank said in its letter to the DFS on April 5.