State Bank of India has instructed its various zones to recover the ‘compensation’ given to officers of its erstwhile associate banks for over-time work during the demonetisation days in late 2016.
According to the SBI communication, the compensation was meant for those working in SBI’s branches, and related to the period when the five associate banks functioned on their own.
Over 70,000 officers and employees became part of the SBI when its associate banks — State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Travancore and State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur — merged with the parent on April 1, 2017.
“The claim related to the period prior to the merger of e-Abs (erstwhile Associate Banks) should have been dealt by e-Abs at the material time and we have no record of any commitment to pay the same,” the communication said, adding that instruction issued earlier this year for payment of compensation was only in respect of those who worked in SBI’s branches.
Some of these employees were paid compensation for working beyond 7 pm during the demonetisation period between November 14 and December 30, 2016. The compensation was different for each circle: For officers it could be as much as ₹30,000, and for clerical and other staff ₹17,000. The amount was paid as ‘Out of Pocket expense’ between March and May.
The communication, to the Deputy General Manager in-charge of office administration, asked the officer to review the position and “examine under what circumstances approval was given for the payment of compensation to the officers of e-ABs”. It also asked to arrange to “recover where wrong payments have been made.” It made it clear that “if it warrants, appropriate action may be initiated against the erring official.”
Bank unions expressed unhappiness over the move, saying the amounts were paid after almost a year, and after repeated requests to the Indian Banks Association. Recovery of the amount was grossly unjust, they said.
Said one employee: “Normally, a merger means taking over the assets and liability. Now, if there is any liability towards staff on account of working beyond service hours, how can the parent SBI deny that?”
Another officer said: “Why is the management creating a rift among staff? We feel demoralised.”