Place female employees near their family,

Finance Ministry tells PSBs

Policy can't be implemented in isolation, say bankers

Abhijit Lele & M Saraswathy | Mumbai

Last Updated at 12:26 IST, August 18,2014

Anita Sarage, a 48 year-old employee at a large public sector bank, is already celebrating. Sarage, who was recently given a promotion and shifted to another location against her wishes, is now hopeful that she will be able to stay back with her husband and child in the same city. 

The ministry has said that as per representations received by them, when female employees (married or unmarried) are transferred/placed away from their family, they face genuine hardship. 

Keeping this in view, the ministry has asked all public sector banks to accommodate their placement/transfer requests as far as possible. 

The ministry said that the bank could also consider to re-locate them to a location where their family is based.  

The banks have been told to frame a policy on the subject with the approval of their Board and take immediate action for implementation and compliance.

 Most banks are in the process of assessing the impact of this communication from the finance ministry. They said that they will fine tune policies to suit their circumstances. The directive from ministry is expected to be be discussed at the industry body platform (Indian Banks' Association) too.

 Bank officials said that the communication from the government cannot be implemented independently. There are other aspects including stint in rural areas and orientation in various functions that have a bearing on the placement decisions.

HR officials pointed out that in public sector banks, employees in posts of deputy general manager and above do not quit since they are likely candidates for the top management team. Hence, unless it is mandated, such employees have to continue to operate from whatever location the bank wants them to. 

Rituparna Chakraborty, Co-Founder & Senior Vice President of TeamLease Services explained that in corporate India, most organisations accommodate transfer requests by female employees. She said that since public sector banks have a large presence, this mandate should not be difficult to implement.

"The only criteria is whether there is a role for that similar function in the other location. In departments like marketing, corporate communication and human resources, physical presence is not important. Companies do not want to let go of trained resources and high performers. So if they are not able to immediately give them an opportunity to relocate, they could be given a deferred date," she said. 

The head of human resources at a large public sector bank said banks already have placement policies. With large number of females working across levels, banks are supportive, especially in posting. 

At senior levels, the number of positions available are limited so it becomes quite a challenge to accommodate a person, pointed out a senior executive with other public sector bank. 

Sunil Goel, director of human resources firm GlobalHunt said that in private sector banks, diversity is a large area of focus and their operations are centralised. Hence, location does not make a difference and in a bid to retain employees, they consider the requests usually. 

He added that public sector banks, which have deficient resources, will be able to fill the gaps by implementing the ministry circular. However, he believed that considering the hierarchy structure in these banks, implementation could be a little difficult. 

At this juncture, it is still not clear whether there would be any caveats attached to the implementation. In corporate India, if an employee is transferred to another location, they are some changes in the salary structure if they shift to a location which has a different standard of living. However, salary changes are usually implemented during the appraisal cycles and not in the middle of the year.