Banks in the UAE have the discretionary powers to operate using a bare minimum staff presence at offices and branches. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: Financial institutions and exchange houses that are under Central Bank supervision should follow guidelines that state only 30 per cent of those working in critical positions are required to work from the office.

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and UAE Banks Federation (UBF) said on Friday this is in line with efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to ensure the health and safety of banks’ and financial institution’s employees and customers.

Free to reduce further

The bank regulator has given freedom to banks and exchange houses to take the decision on reduced working hours and temporary closure of some branches as long as the services offered to customers are not interrupted. This becomes effective from Sunday (March 29) for two weeks extendable.

“We were one of the first sectors that implemented remote working system effectively within the banks’ business continuity plan, took necessary precautionary and preventive measures and adopted procedures and technologies that ensured swift and efficient operations,” said Mubarak Rashed Al Mansoori, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE.

“The banking workforce is fully prepared and committed to support the UAE’s economy and community during this particular time.”

The remote working system prioritises certain categories including, pregnant women, mothers of children in G-9 and below with duties that do not necessitate physical presence at the workplaces, people of determination, employees with respiratory problems and weak immune system, in addition to employees aged 60 and above. These are in line with UAE government efforts to ensure the health and safety of all its nationals and residents.

“The banking sector is well positioned to ensure the continuity of operations and fulfill all customers’ requirements through electronic and digital channels,” said AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation. “And we will continue working with the Central Bank of the UAE and our member banks to promote a safe and stable environment.”

To ensure continuation of the services, customers are requested to use digital and online channels to process their banking and financial transactions.