CNBC-TV18 reached out to some of these companies that admitted to challenges on the vaccine supply front, which were causing delays in getting their staff vaccinated.
Public and private banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), and rating agencies have taken up the responsibility of vaccinating their employees against COVID-19. While many of them have tied up with hospitals, private players to inoculate their staff, others are offering reimbursement of expenses.
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CNBC-TV18 reached out to some of these companies that admitted to challenges on the vaccine supply front, which were causing delays in getting their staff vaccinated. Some companies said they were still in the process of finding partners to start the process.
The pandemic has resulted in 2.91 lakh deaths across the country, as per the latest data available on May 21, 2021. Of these, at least 1,300 bankers have succumbed to the infection, CH Venkatachalam, the general secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association, the largest body of bank workers, told CNBC-TV18.
Venkatachalam said 600 bank employees had lost their lives to the virus as of February 2021, and this number had gone up to over 1,300 now.
“We observe that while the number of people infected under the second wave is increasing in our country as a whole, its toll in the banking sector is much higher, especially in the number of deaths. This is creating a lot of scare and panic amongst the bank employees,” he said.
Banks were declared part of the essential services at the start of the pandemic and continued servicing customers over the past year and a half while the pandemic raged, often at the cost of getting infected, or worse, losing lives. In the second wave alone, since April of this year, at least about 20 percent of banks’ staff were infected on average, public bank chiefs recently told RBI in a meeting.
At the country’s largest bank, State Bank of India, a vaccination camp has been set up in the corporate office for all the staff. SBI has tied up with large hospitals to conduct this drive, a spokesperson for the bank said. Similarly, its offices in other circles have launched a massive drive to get the employees vaccinated in their campuses. For those who are not vaccinated by the bank, SBI will reimburse the cost including for dependent family members.
Bank of Baroda said it has undertaken several steps for ensuring vaccination of all its employees and their dependent family members. “Some of the bank’s zonal/regional units have in coordination with local/district authorities, hospitals/vaccination centers arranged for vaccination of staff members/their dependent family members," Bank of Baroda said in a statement to CNBC-TV18.
"Bank is also exploring the possibility through leading hospitals/local authorities at various centers for vaccination of remaining employees and their dependents,” it added.
It is also reimbursing the vaccination expenses incurred by all employees.
Punjab National Bank told CNBC-TV18 it has taken various initiatives including vaccination for its employees and their dependents in the last two months.
“Vaccination camps had been organised at Circle Office/Zonal Office level to vaccinate the staff members. During April month, several camps were organised by the bank on PAN India basis and about 8000 employees were vaccinated from 11th April to 16th April 2021,” a spokesperson of PNB said.
"Again we have planned to organise vaccination camp at HO Dwarka, New Delhi on 20.05.2021 for vaccination of more than 800 staff members and their dependents. The bank is endeavouring to cover all its employees and their dependents under vaccination drive within 2-3 months subject to availability of vaccine and support from the state/UT government,” added the spokesperson.
Private banks too are following the suit. Bandhan Bank, in a phase-wise manner, is arranging vaccination for its employees and has tied up with leading healthcare providers for the same.
"We, at Bandhan Bank, are committed to ensuring the well-being of our entire team of over 50,000 employees and the customers served by them," said the bank in an email to CNBC-TV18.
"Also, in case an employee is able to get the vaccine on his/her own personal initiative in the interim, we are reimbursing the cost of such vaccination,” Bandhan Bank said.
Kotak Mahindra Bank has tied up with Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai and with Apollo Hospitals across 29 cities in India for COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees, off-roll staff, and family members who are 18 years and above, the bank said in a response to CNBC-TV18's query. The vaccination cost for employees will be borne by the bank. "For employees getting vaccinated on their own, Kotak is reimbursing the cost of the vaccination."
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HDFC Bank has tied up with multiple hospitals across cities including Manipal Hospital, Shalby Multi-Specialty Hospitals, Billroth Hospital Group, MIOT International, and others to vaccinate employees. It has also provided isolation facilities across cities for its employees. The bank also said it was working with local administration and setting up vaccination camps, some of which have been concluded successfully.
IDFC FIRST Bank said vaccines were not immediately available, but it has tied up with medical partners to arrange vaccination for its employees as soon as the vaccines are available. The bank told CNBC-TV18 that it would reimburse the cost of COVID-19 vaccination for all its employees.
Other facilities provided to employees include free 24x7 Doctor Helpline for enquiring about COVID- 19 related symptoms, assistance for COVID-19 testing at minimum charges, discounted pricing for home isolation packages, and hospitalisation assistance for employees and their family on best effort basis.
ICICI Bank in a statement said it would bear vaccination costs for all employees and their immediate families.
A spokesperson for YES Bank said the vaccination tie-ups with private hospitals are slow because of vaccine shortages, but it is in the process of closing these tie-ups and would also be reimbursing all its employees for the vaccination costs borne by them.
RBL Bank said it had tied up with multiple hospitals in all major centres and would get its employees vaccinated. "Our employee vaccination drive has been pushed by a few days due to availability of vaccine with the hospital we have tied up with. Hopefully, we will begin sometime next week as of now,” a spokesperson for the bank told CNBC-TV18.
Bajaj Finance also said it was working towards procuring vaccines for bulk vaccination of employees in larger cities. It also plans to operationalise workplace vaccination centres, and was tying up with hospitals, medical health providers for vaccination onsite, or at hospitals.
"Edelweiss in addition to bearing the full vaccination costs for employees and their family members through reimbursement is also in the process of finalising tie-ups with service providers for organising vaccination camps for the Edelweiss Group employees and their family members,” the group said in a statement to CNBC-TV18.
Global bank Barclays said in a statement to CNBC-TV18, "As India witnesses a continuous surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, we are providing additional support to colleagues especially with regards to medial insurance, including COVID-related treatment expenses. We are following government guidance and actively exploring options to support the vaccination rollout."
Rating agencies, similarly, have organised vaccinations for employees. "Moody’s is committed to supporting our colleagues in India during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. We have taken a number of steps to help address immediate financial challenges and better support our colleagues with vaccination and treatment of themselves and their family members,” the agency said in a statement to CNBC-TV18. “Moody’s has tied up with a healthcare partner to arrange vaccine camps for our employees at their facilities. We are starting with a limited batch of employees in Delhi NCR this week and hope to have more such camps in due course as vaccines become available," it said.
"All India employees will receive a one-time wellness stipend with their May salaries to cover for expenses incurred for treatment and vaccination of themselves and family members. Colleagues impacted by COVID-19 will be reimbursed for homecare treatment for themselves, their spouse and children," Moody’s said.
Also read: Govt panel recommends extending gap between vaccination and COVID-19 infection to 9 months
Sheetal Sandhu, Group CHRO, ICRA Ltd told CNBC-TV18, "ICRA is putting its best foot forward towards its responsibilities regarding health and safety of its employees. We are looking for all possible measures to make vaccinations seamless and a priority to our employees and their family members. At the outset, we have partnered with Apollo Hospitals & Clinics to organise vaccination drives on a priority basis at our pan India locations, subject to government guidelines. As an alternative, we are also reimbursing the costs of the COVID 19 vaccinations for our employees and family members on actuals, if an employee decides to get vaccinated at a private healthcare facility or other authorized centers and incur a cost."
She added, "We are aware of the challenges on vaccination availability and hence, we are pretty much open to supporting our employees in anyways possible. Apart from this, we have organized additional support to our employees not limited to company paid home care services, free ambulance and nursing services, additional COVID 19 insurance coverage and series of wellness programmes including wellness day off and CARE leaves."
At S&P Global in India, employees can claim a refund for the vaccination for themselves and their eligible dependents. S&P India said it is also exploring a vaccination drive for employees and their dependents with various partners “as and when the Govt permits this to happen".
India Ratings will reimburse the cost of vaccination for employees and their families.
Care Ratings said it was facing challenges on this front. The rating agency said it is in the process of tying up with some hospitals in larger centres for vaccinating its employees. "Because we are a relatively smaller firm, we aren't able to get these tie-ups easily coz the hospitals want a larger commitment of numbers. However, we are focusing on it. We also plan to reimburse vaccination costs to employees where we can't organize vaccination, especially non-metro locations," it said in a statement to CNBC-TV18.
CRISIL said it was taking steps to provide vaccination support to all employees and their immediate family members. It is tying up for vaccination drives with hospitals / and exploring camps across large cities (Mumbai and Delhi NCR to start with). CRISIL said it would have dedicated vaccination drives to include employees and immediate family members, as well as provide vaccination reimbursement claims for employees in other cities.
Earlier this month, the department of financial services Secretary Debasish Panda, in a letter addressed to chief secretaries of all states, union territories said that states must consider a special dispensation for vaccination of staff of banks, insurance companies, business correspondents, payment systems, and other financial service providers on priority.
(Edited by : Jomy)
First Published: IST