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UOB extends leave, reduces working hours in Covid-19 response

UOB has reduced working hours and given employees an additional day of annual leave in response to the stress placed on its staff by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Each employee has been given an extra day of leave over the next two months to help them manage their personal responsibilities,” Dean Tong, head of group human resources, told us. “We have reduced the daily working hours of our people wherever possible, so that they can attend to their family commitments during these uncertain times,” he adds.

Tong says that while UOB has been “very strict” about putting precautionary measures in place to follow government guidance and keep staff safe, it’s also important for banks to show “care and gratitude” for employees.

His comments are in line with a recommendation issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in February that financial institutions should “monitor and support staff morale” in response to the coronavirus.

In Hong Kong, Standard Chartered and HSBC have allocated an extra five days’ leave, but not for all employees. HSBC’s allowance is for people in “front-line” and “critical operations” jobs, while Stan Chart’s is for branch staff.

As we reported earlier this week, banks in Singapore and Hong Kong have also stepped up the health and wellbeing services they offer employees, especially those working from home. Firms such as OCBC, Societe Generale, Deutsche Bank have introduced virtual medical consultations, while DBS and Goldman Sachs are running online fitness classes.

However, some banking professionals in Singapore – those in critical roles such as trading, for example – are still working from the office, despite the circuit-breaker regulations enforced on Tuesday.

Tong from UOB says office-based staff, including those in branches or operations teams, have staggered working hours and work on split shifts. “This helps to ensure fewer people are on public transport during peak hours, and that across our premises we are following safe distancing measures,” he adds.

“We have been encouraging our people through regular communications to keep at least one metre of space between them and the person beside them,” says Tong. “We also have regular updates on the importance of good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and not coming to the office if you are unwell.”

Photo by Monty Allen on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com or Telegram: @simonmortlock

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AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager

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