“At the operational level, the bank is preparing for such scenarios.” As of today, however, there was no short-time working within the institute.
Individual Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks are also considering registering short-time benefits. “Wherever it can not be avoided, cooperative banks take this step to preserve jobs,” said a spokeswoman for the Federal Association of Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken (BVR).
The move would be a novelty for the banking industry. “Short-time work is something completely new and unknown to banks. In any case, I know of no cases in my 35 years of professional experience, ”said Stephan Szukalski, Federal Chairman of the DBV banking union.
Short-time work is generally used by companies such as car manufacturers or mechanical engineers to survive an economic downturn without having to fire employees. The federal government has recently expanded short-time working opportunities due to the corona crisis.
“We know of a number of Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken that have already applied for short-time work,” said Szukalski. “Many more – as well as most of the big banks – at least that is our assessment. We will follow suit at the latest in the course of the next week.”
The employers’ association of the private banking industry said that, to the best of its knowledge, there has been no short-time working at German banks. “Of course, companies have to prepare for the fact that short-time work may also be necessary in certain areas,” said a spokesman
Banking expert Jan Duschek from the Verdi union explained that the closure of branches as a result of the Corona crisis is not a prerequisite for applying for short-time work. There are already possibilities in the collective agreements as well as in internal regulations to manage fluctuations in the volume of work and to secure employment.
According to insiders, possible forced holidays at banks are not about tens of thousands of employees, for example Volkswagen, Fraport or Lufthansa. Only a few areas of the institutes in the private customer business are affected, such as processing, marketing or in the branches.
“So far, short-time working has been purely hypothetical, but if the pressure from the corona crisis persists, you need to be prepared,” said a person familiar with the matter. For example, internal company agreements would be changed or adapted in order to be able to react quickly in an emergency.
The Deutsche Bank and the Commerzbank Both are currently in the middle of the corporate restructuring and are cutting thousands of jobs. That costs them a lot of money; Deutsche Bank alone has budgeted more than seven billion euros for this.
If branches remain closed for a long time due to the Corona crisis or if the business is idle in some areas, this increases the pressure on costs even more. Short-time working regulations can save costs, since the Federal Employment Agency pays 60 percent of the lost net wages.
The situation for German commercial banks is currently divided. For one thing, the wires in the corporate customer departments are running hot because thousands of companies are applying for KfW aid loans through their house banks because of the corona crisis.
Many employees worked overtime because of this, the unions said. “We see a huge need for advice from our customers. Therefore, the question of short-time work is currently not being asked, ”said Commerzbank private customer boss Michael Mandel of the Reuters news agency. On the other hand, more and more branches are being closed because people no longer go out of the house or employees at the banks have contracted the virus.
UniCredit subsidiary HypovereinsBank (HVB) now only has around 30 percent of its 337 branches in Germany open. Nevertheless, all employees are fully committed to the customers. “Short-time work is not an issue for us,” said a spokeswoman.
Deutsche Bank closed more than 200 of its more than 500 locations last week and is currently not planning any further closures. Commerzbank also thinned its branch network by around 160 branches. The employees are increasingly advising on telephone or video calls. Self-service zones at the banks are still open.
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