Banks supplement benefits to help employees affected by coronavirus


As the novel coronavirus spreads in the United States, banks are adding additional benefits to employees working in branch offices as well as those taking time off work to deal with illness and care responsibilities.

They pay bonuses to frontline workers who are still working or offer additional paid time off for those who are ill or in quarantine, financial assistance for childcare or virtual doctor appointments.. In a global pandemic, the additional benefits are not only the right thing for employees to do, they are also a valuable public health measure that could help slow the spread of the disease, bankers say.

The $ 473 billion Truist asset in Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, said it would increase paid vacation and family allowances and pay a special child care allowance to employees earning less than $ 50,000. $ per year. And JPMorgan Chase said Friday it would pay $ 1,000 in bonuses to branch employees who earn less than $ 60,000 and continue to work on site.

“Keeping employees and customers as safe as possible is every bank’s top priority, which is why banks are embracing telecommuting and social distancing, offering paid sick leave, expanding secure banking services through ATMs. automatic and personalized ‘golden hours’ appointments for at – risky seniors, ”said Paul Benda, senior vice president of risk policy and cybersecurity at the American Bankers Association in an email. . the economy. “

The added benefits are just one of the ways the banking industry has responded to the impacts of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. In the past two weeks, banks have also reduced and eliminated travel, sent many employees home to work remotely, and closed or limited access to branches.

The virus first appeared in the United States in late January, but spread rapidly in March and quickly reached pandemic status. The United States had 10,442 cases of the coronavirus, including 150 deaths, as of Friday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Epidemiologists have recommended that people self-isolate in order to slow the spread of the disease and avoid overloading the health care system.

Often, this means that employees have to take time off work, be sick, take care of a family member, watch a child at home after school, or have a child at home after school. ‘they need to quarantine themselves and cannot work remotely. Paid time off and other benefits are largely meant to discourage people from coming to the workplace and potentially spreading the virus because they are afraid of missing a paycheck.

JPMorgan Chase said it will continue to pay branch workers for their regular hours in about 20% of its branches it has temporarily closed and others where it has reduced hours.

Truist also said Friday night that he would pay an additional $ 1,200 to all of his employees earning less than $ 100,000 a year. A spokesperson for the company said about 78%, or 45,000, of its employees would receive the payment this week.

Capital One’s $ 390.4 billion in assets said branch employees who continued to work on-site would receive an additional $ 10 per hour. Other customer service workers, such as call center staff, would receive an additional $ 5 per hour, the bank said.

Ally Financial in Detroit said it would offer immediate paid medical leave to employees diagnosed with COVID-19 and paid compassionate care leave for those who need to care for family members. In addition, the company with $ 180.6 billion in assets said it will offer staff free access to mental health professionals by phone or text, as well as online health services.

“Anxiety comes out of all of us in different ways and we need to really listen to people,” Diane Morais, president of personal and business banking products at Ally, said in a phone interview on Friday. “We really try to take care of our people. If we don’t have a healthy and strong workforce, we won’t be able to do our best for our customers.

Synovus in Columbus, Georgia, said it would offer 10 days of immediate paid leave for employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who need to self-quarantine and cannot work remotely.

The $ 48 billion asset bank also said it would pay an additional $ 50 per day, up to $ 500 per pay period, to employees designated as critical and required to work on-site, such as cashiers. These employees can also receive up to 10 days’ pay if they have to take time off work because of “a difficulty created by the closure of a school, daycare or personal care facility. elderly ”.

The $ 12.3 billion WSFS Financial asset in Wilmington, Del., Offers its employees 14 days of paid leave for childcare or other events related to the virus, a spokesperson said.

Webster Financial in Waterbury, Connecticut, said he also came up with a plan to pay employees who have to take time off to care for loved ones. After employees use five of their paid days off, the $ 30.4 billion asset bank will pay them for any other days they need to be off work for the next 30 days. , said a spokesperson.

Santander US, a unit of Spanish banking giant Banco Santander, said it has implemented a temporary emergency paid leave program, offering up to 80 hours of paid leave to staff who need to be absent from work for related reasons. to the virus.

“We have resilience plans in place and have taken many precautionary measures to help mitigate the risk of contagion, including suspending non-essential business travel, educating all employees whose jobs do not depend on them. not from the place to work from home, and postponing, canceling or moving larger group meetings to a virtual format, ”a spokesperson told American Banker via email.

This story has been updated to include the new programs from Capital One and Truist.

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