CARACHI: Real wages have not increased for most wage earners, with inflation hitting double-digit levels.
Due to the economic downturn, many companies have been forced to lay off employees.
Given the rise in the cost of transport, two major players in the banking sector have devised relief measures for employees. HBL and Bank Alfalah have both announced financial assistance.
HBL is delivering it in two tranches in August 2022 and October 2022. It will be delivered to over 15,000 employees at Senior Manager level and below. Talk to ProfitAli Habib, director of marketing and communications at HBL, explains that salary and position are taken into account when developing the formula for this interim ad hoc support.
Bank Alfalah, on the other hand, announced an ad-hoc inflationary allowance for six months starting July 1, 2022. The bank announced that EVP I to EVP III grades would get 11.25% of their base pay in addition to their salary. Likewise, 15% FOR AVP I to SVP II, and 15% for OG I – OG IV with a non-executive stand that includes clerical and non-administrative employees.
HBL and Bank Alfalah will separately announce relief measures for outsourced third-party staff other than security guards and concierge staff.
Profit understood that HBL employs approximately 2,500 people through third-party contract services, in addition to its 16,000 full-time employees.
In addition to this financial assistance, HBL offers all employees the opportunity to benefit from a motorcycle loan of up to PKR 200,000 with a 0% mark-up. “Installation is available for both electric and conventional motorcycles. However, we strongly encourage our staff to switch to e-bikes, as it also supports our goals of encouraging clean energy and keeping the national energy crisis in mind,” says Habib.
He reiterated the decision to provide this facility to all employees due to “HBL’s unwavering commitment to its staff”. HBL is in talks with e-bike manufacturers to help them increase their offering, he added.
Keeping cultural pressures in mind, women working at HBL can take advantage of this loan facility but may choose not to ride these bikes to work themselves.
The bank also announced an internal carpooling solution to allow HBL employees to share the vehicle among themselves which will be launched soon. “The HBL tower at II Chundrigar houses over 1000 employees, so the ability to carpool can help.”
In addition, HBL has increased reimbursement for official travel to PKR 30 per km for cars and PKR 10/km for motorbikes.
Profit asked HBL and Bank Alfalah about the total financial impact of these decisions. The latter did not respond while HBL said it could not give an exact value.
It is important to note that this ad hoc temporary relief is short-term. Additionally, as prices remain rigid on the downside, employees may feel pressure again due to inflation after the relief is reversed.
This suggests that the motivating factor behind such measures is primarily fuel prices. As fuel prices are expected to fall following increased supply and better geo-economic decisions, HBL and Bank Alfalah may believe relief will no longer be needed.
Remote work, for this industry, is not as easy for other industries due to strict data privacy laws.
However, it is important to note that if the manufacturing sector across the country lays off production staff, there is a reduction or stoppage of production due to lack of imported inputs; the service sector has no such problems.