Unemployment during Covid-19: Federal Bank gives 400-odd part-time jobs in Kerala

Federal Bank on Saturday said it has provided 400-odd part-time jobs with a monthly salary of Rs 18,000 at its branches in Kerala so far, in a bid to help those who lost their employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Designated as ‘Covid Wardens’, these people were hired to manage crowds, provide masks and sanitiser to the public visiting the branches in the state, it said.

The livelihood enhancement project was started as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative in August 2020 and is continuing even now.

Speaking to PTI, Federal Bank Chief Human Resource Officer Ajith Kumar K K said: “This is a part-time job given to tide over the situation, not a full-time employment.”

The bank hired these people at a monthly salary of Rs 18,000 per month. About Rs 6 crore has been spent towards salary in the last 10 months, he said.

Since many had lost jobs due to the pandemic in the state there were requests for creating part-time jobs from several agencies and organisations.

“We thought of finding a way to provide livelihood to people who lost jobs due to the pandemic and help them tide over the economic hardship. That’s why we decided to hire such people,” he added.

Kumar further said crowd management at branches had become a big issue during the pandemic as the Kerala government has restricted entry of not more than five people at a particular time.

“Therefore, we thought hiring part-time ‘Covid Wardens’ will be helpful to both. We provided jobs to about 400-odd people in Kerala,” he said.

Hiring was done in Kerala because the state was having many positive cases at that time and moreover the footfall in branches were also high.

Whereas in other states, ‘Covid Wardens’ were not hired as there were security guards managing the crowd at bank branches, Kumar added.

Asked if the initiative will continue, Kumar said the bank will discontinue if the Covid-19 positivity rate falls below five per cent in a particular locality.

“We are keeping a close watch on positivity rate in the state,” he said.

Kumar also mentioned that the needy people were hired irrespective of their education qualification through reputed agencies and organisations, and the salary is being paid through these agencies.

Although there is a jobless situation in many sectors due to the pandemic, the bank however cannot take care of all jobless people, Kumar said adding that “we are playing our small part under our CSR initiative”.

The Kochi-based Federal Bank said it spent the entire allocated CSR funds of Rs 35 crore during the 2020-21 fiscal. The bank expects the CSR budget for the current year would be around Rs 40 crore.

The bank has been implementing CSR initiatives for the last 10 years through the Federal Bank Hormis Memorial Foundation.

Among other CSR initiatives, the bank has spent Rs 4 crore on setting up a separate 100-bed ward with ICU facility in a hospital in Kochi. It is operating an outreach programme ‘Sanjivini Vehicle’ in five districts to create awareness about vaccination.

Besides, the bank provides scholarships for higher studies to 150 students, supplies to select health institutions, equipment required for treatment of neurological disabilities besides running skill academies to train local youth.