Mumbai: As the government is yet to prioritize bankers for covid-19 vaccination, lenders are advising employees to undergo RT-PCR tests every 15 days. “As per the government of Maharashtra circular dated 05 April 2021, in all RBI-regulated entities, officials attending office must be covid-19 vaccinated or carrying negative RT-PCR report.
The report not older than 15 days otherwise a penalty of ₹1,000/- will be levied per individual with effect from 10 April 2021. This will be applicable for all our offices and branches in Maharashtra,” said an email received by employees of a private sector lender last week. However, while the new ‘Break the Chain’ guidelines released on 13 April do not specifically ask for bankers to get tested frequently, some banks are still insisting staff to do so.
The difficulty in getting a slot for RT-PCR test in Mumbai and suburbs compounds their problems. Media reported on Tuesday how people in the financial capital could not book slots for RT-PCR testing or were asked to wait for three-four days for a slot. Test results are also delayed by three days at many centres. The document said state level bankers’ committee is initiating steps to get bank employees listed as frontline workers to become eligible for vaccination.
India, at present, is vaccinating everyone above 45 years of age as the second wave of the virus grips parts of the country and leads to partial lockdowns. The health ministry has said that government and private workplaces which have 100 or more people above the age of 45 years of age can organize covid-19 vaccination programme from 11 April.
The private lender cited above-informed employees that those eligible under the current rules should get inoculated at the earliest, while others will have to undergo RT-PCR tests every 15 days. The bank has said it will reimburse the charges of such tests. “We have requested our HR to allow us to work from home. But no approval has been granted so far. We have been told to get an RT-PCR test every 15 days which is tedious,” said a bank employee on the condition of anonymity.
While the number of covid-19 cases have surged in Mumbai and its suburban area, the state guidelines mandating a negative RT-PCR test for offices, delivery services, public transportation, roadside eateries, among others has increased the caseload on the testing labs.
Though there have been numerous calls to allow vaccination for all, irrespective of age, the government has not yet relented. However, healthcare workers and certain other frontline workers like security personnel and municipal officers have been exempted from this rule but not bankers.
A B Vijayakumar, executive director, Bank of Maharashtra and chairman of Maharashtra SLBC has raised the issue of treating bank employees on a par with other frontline workers, according to the minutes of the meeting held on 18 March.
In fact, the finance ministry has requested the ministry of home affairs and the health ministry to consider issuing guidelines for priority vaccinations of bankers and employees of the National Payments Corp. of India.