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Banks are working to protect their back office workers from the rise of Covid in India

Financial services firms have outsourced a large number of IT and operations jobs to India over the past decades, attracted by an educated workforce and lower labor costs. Dear. Nearly 4.4 million people nationwide are employed in IT and business process management, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, a professional body.

In order to keep their operations online, banks are relocating work to other countries, encouraging staff to work from home and extending project deadlines. Indian companies providing services on Wall Street are taking further steps to protect workers in cities such as Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Delhi, in some cases establishing Covid care centers for employees and their families.

Remote work, which is implemented for almost all employees Goldman Sachs (GS) and Wells fargo (WFC), for example, is a step towards ensuring the safety of the workforce and the functioning of companies.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson told CNN Business the bank was not experiencing “significant impacts” on its operations. It supports local communities with more than $ 3 million in grants.

Goldman Sachs last week announced a donation of $ 10 million to support the battle against the pandemic in India. The investment bank has offices in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

“We are focused on the overall health and safety of our people and their families during this unprecedented health crisis in India,” said Gunjan Samtani, director of Goldman Sachs Services in India. “We continue to be resilient in the performance of our business functions.”

But working from home during a pandemic is complicated, especially if employees have to care for sick relatives. There are also security and data protection challenges, as employees can manage sensitive company or customer information.

Bank of America (BAC), another US bank operating in India, declined to comment.

London responds

British banks Barclays (BCS), NatWest (NWG) and Standard charter (SCBFF) in some cases shifting work to other countries to relieve pressure on employees in India, many of whom have fallen ill or have family responsibilities.

“We are moving some of our capacity to the UK and enjoying what our colleagues are doing here,” Barclays CEO Jes Staley said on a call with reporters on Friday. Barclays employs around 20,000 people in India, making it the largest center of bank employees outside of Great Britain.

Barclays has increased donations to local charities for vital supplies such as food, masks and oxygen concentrators and is providing additional medical insurance to employees for treatment costs related to Covid.

NatWest CEO Alison Rose told analysts that the company has “relieved some of the pressure” on its back office operations in India: “We are giving it a lot of support … our main focus is really to support our colleagues ”. she added.

The bank – which employs 13,000 people in India almost exclusively in back office roles – hasn’t moved any functions out of the country, but is extending delivery times for non-core projects to manage workloads.

The company offers its employees digital access medical services and reimbursements for Covid-19 vaccinations. It is also donating funds that will be used to deploy vaccines in India and elsewhere.

Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters said the bank had “rebalanced the load” between service centers in Chennai and Bangalore. It has 100 branches in 43 cities across India, most of which have remained open, as well as back office operations.

“We have large case counts among our population, both in our service center and in the bank itself,” Winters told analysts on a call last week. “Banks are considered essential services, so unfortunately we have had a disproportionate share of branch staff cases,” he added.

In a statement shared with CNN Business, Standard Chartered Bank India said it provides private transportation for staff who have to work in an office and provides hospitalization and other critical care products such as oxygen. medical care for its employees. The bank is also facilitating vaccination campaigns in Bangalore and Chennai for staff and their families by partnering with local health authorities and hospitals.

HSBC (HSBC), which employs 39,000 people in India, is donating $ 11.5 million for Covid relief efforts this year, including the deployment of vaccines through the Covax Global Vaccination Program.

Following the Indian government’s announcement that adults over 18 will be eligible for vaccines from May 1, the bank is mobilizing efforts to get doses to staff. “We will do everything we can to help you access vaccines,” CEO Noel Quinn said in a post on LinkedIn.

Beyond banks

It is not just the banks that rely on India to maintain their operations. Businesses on the periphery of financial services, such as consulting firms and accounting firms, face similar challenges.

Together, Accenture, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC employ nearly 350,000 people in India.

EY India, which has more than 56,000 workers, activated a business continuity plan at the start of the wave, which provided for a transfer of work to other geographies.

Almost all of its employees work from home, according to Julie Teigland, regional managing partner. “A significant number of people at EY and their families have been directly affected by the severe second wave of Covid in India,” she told CNN Business.

Banks are working to protect their back office workers from the rise of Covid in India

EY provides staff with additional medical insurance and time off related to Covid, which can be used to care for sick family members. He also works with NGOs to facilitate medical supplies and meals for patients in hospitals.

PwC’s Covid helpline provides employees with information on the availability of beds, medications, equipment and tests. “We ensure that anyone with emerging medical needs for themselves or their family members can take time off without having to worry about balancing their time off or business continuity,” Satyavati Berera, COO of PwC India, said in a statement. declaration.

KPMG India said all of its staff are currently working remotely or from client offices as needed. KPMG International donated funds to meet the country’s critical needs, including the provision of oxygen, hygiene equipment, ambulances and other medical supplies.

Accenture, Deloitte and EY are working with other U.S. companies to provide India with essential medical supplies, vaccines and oxygen through a partnership supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the US Business Roundtable.

Accenture, which employs around 200,000 people in seven cities in India, said in a statement it could transfer functions elsewhere if necessary.

Action at home

IT giants in India, such as Infosys (INFY) and Wipro (MIND), which provide commercial services to companies around the world – have also been quick to provide assistance to employees and keep their operations running smoothly.

With health services under high pressure, Infosys has set up Covid care centers for employees in Pune and Bangalore and plans to roll these elsewhere. Wipro has taken similar steps, with facilities in Bangalore and Delhi available exclusively to staff and their immediate family members. He plans to open similar sites in Pune and Hyderabad.

The two companies are partnering with hospitals across the country to provide treatment for employees and their families, and vaccines are provided on some campuses.

Infosys said employees who contract Covid receive an additional 21 days of paid leave from the company. “At present, we continue to operate in a remote model in our offices and do not see any impact on our customer deliverables due to the health situation,” he said in a statement.

Wipro told CNN Business that only 3% of employees work in an office. “For employees engaged in critical projects, we have arranged accommodation in our guesthouses or in hotels close to our facilities,” he added.

The company created backup teams to reduce the workload on critical projects and said its global customers had “responded with empathy” to the situation.

– Diksha Madhok contributed reporting.


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