World News

Canadian banks reward frontline employees as coronavirus crisis deepens

By Nichola Saminather and Noor Zainab Hussain

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian banks on Tuesday followed U.S. heavyweights in offering additional daily payments, one-time bonuses and extra paid days off to customer-service employees required to work in branches and call centers during the coronavirus crisis.

Banks have largely been excluded from government-mandated shutdowns in many countries because they are considered an essential industry, meaning most bank branches, call centers and trading floors have stayed open even as many other firms send their employees home.

Royal Bank of Canada <RY.TO>, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce <CM.TO> (CIBC) and Bank of Montreal <BMO.TO> (BMO) said they would pay an additional C$50 per day to employees.

Bank of Nova Scotia <BNS.TO> will also give C$50 a day to employees, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

TD Bank Group’s <TD.TO> full- and part-time employees working onsite in Canada will get a one-time award of up to C$1,000 ($695.85), split over two payments of up to C$500 each in April and May and up to two additional paid vacation or personal days, the bank said on Tuesday.  

TD Bank employees in the United States will receive a one-time award of up to $1,000.

All CIBC employees are also eligible for up to 10 additional paid days off, and Scotiabank staff can get as many as five additional days off.

Scotiabank’s payment will run at least until the end of April, and a similar measure will soon be in place for eligible international employees, too, according to the memo.

Credit union Vancity is giving branch employees one paid week off for every two weeks they spend working, and they can work one of those two weeks from home taking client calls, according to an e-mailed statement.

Canada’s six largest banks have said they will temporarily limit operating hours and close some branches as part of measures to support social distancing and curb the outbreak of the highly contagious coronavirus.

Large U.S banks are also rewarding employees working on the frontline through the outbreak.

Citigroup Inc <C.N> has said it will pay $1,000 to U.S. employees who make $60,000 or less in base salary, while JPMorgan & Chase Co <JPM.N>, the largest U.S. bank by assets, will give workers staffing branches and call centers through the pandemic a onetime $1,000 bonus.

($1 = 1.4371 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by and Nichola Saminather in Toronto and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Peter Cooney and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)