After nearly a year of repeated representations and petitions by various bank employee unions, five days banking is closer to becoming a reality soon.

According to highly placed sources, in a meeting held on July 28 by the Indian Banking Association (IBA), a representative body of managements of Indian banks, the industry demand for put forth by banks employee unions to declare all Saturdays as a bank holiday is said to have been accepted by the industry body. The IBA has forwarded the petition to the ministry of finance for its approval.

If approved, it would mean that bank branches will work only for five days in a week, that is, Monday to Friday. The daily work hours at branches, though, could be extended by 45 minutes.

Email sent to IBA seeking confirmation remained unanswered till press time. However, top executives of banks, both private and public sector, confirm that in the last meeting of the IBA the agenda to declare Saturday as a holiday was approved. “The matter has now been escalated to the finance ministry for final sign off,” said multiple senior executives of banks aware of the development.

Final nod soon

Bankers are confident that their proposal should be ratified by the department of finance soon. “Based on some of the informal talks with the ministry, it seems like the government may not have an issue in accepting this request from the bankers’ union,” said one of the sources quoted above.

Increasing digital transaction

With over 70 per cent of daily cash related transaction taking place, the industry is of the view that the need for six-day banking on select weeks isn’t very compelling. “Today branches operate more as customer redressal or facilitation centres. More than 80 per cent of banking transactions, including account opening are being done digitally. Except for taking some sign offs on certain agreements which would require the signature customers, there isn’t much need to walk into branches these days,” said a senior executive of a private bank.

At present bank branches function on the first, third and fifth Saturdays of a month. The second and fourth Saturdays are holidays. However, until 2015, banks were operational six days a week, including all Saturdays of a month.

No more working Saturdays for banks?
- Meeting held by IBA on July 28 said to have approved the industry demand to declare all Saturdays as a bank holiday
- Matter pending for final nod with ministry of finance
- With nearly 80 per cent of business at branches done digitally the need for six-day banking said to have reduced
- Presently banks function on the first, third and fifth Saturdays of a month