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MPs’ panel wants ‘flexible working hours’ for women in banks

New Delhi : A parliamentary panel has lamented that its recommendation that “flexible working hours” be introduced for women in banks has not been adhered to, and reiterated that the government should take steps to implement it.

“The Committee would unfailingly underscore again the need for providing women employees of all public sector banks with additional leeway in terms of flexi-working hours to bring in better work-life coherence,” the Committee on Empowerment of Women said in its report ‘Working Conditions of Women in Public Sector Banks’ tabled in parliament during the just concluded monsoon session.

The panel headed by BJP member Bijoya Chakravarty includes politicians Sushmita Dev (Congress), Supriya Sule (Nationalist Congress Party), Kanimozhi (DMK) and P.K. Sreemathi (Communist Party of India-Marxist).

The report said the committee was “unhappy” to note that the government has failed to apprehend the essence of such a recommendation and “instead cited a host of operational issues”.

The Committee was also “perturbed to note the seemingly unreserved submission that State Bank of India considers it unfeasible on its part to provide work-place and work-hour flexibility to women employees”.

The panel recommended that the government should direct all public sector banks to ensure that at least 15 per cent of their branches were all-women centres, “especially in those parts of the country where discrimination against women has traditionally been on higher side than the rest of the country”

“It will make womenfolk feel comfortable to access a banking system that is devoid of gender biases as well as non-discriminatory towards them,” it said.

As of now, 17 leading public sector banks have opened a total of 301 all-women branches.

Indian Overseas Bank and the State Bank of India have so far opened 60 and 119 all-women branches respectively.

The government must also “devise innovative ways” to attract more women to the banking jobs from the Northeastern region, the panel added.