‘Request’ frontline staff get jabs, HKMA tells banks

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is requiring all banks to “strongly encourage” their client-facing staff to get Covid-19 vaccines, saying they have to submit a list of employees who will be “expected” to get jabs by the end of the month.

In a circular issued on Tuesday, the regulator told banks that they have to compile the list of names in the next two weeks, with a breakdown by department or job function.

Though it didn’t specifically say that vaccinations will be mandatory, the HKMA said staff involved in branch operations and critical support work who are on the lists should get the first dose before June 30.

Arrangements should be made for unvaccinated staff, or those unfit to get the jabs, to be tested for Covid-19 every fortnight – a policy that wasn’t implemented even during the height of the outbreak in Hong Kong.

“It is necessary to strengthen the protection of bank staff and customers and to facilitate better business continuity planning, given that banks perform critical economic functions and are expected to maintain some level of operations even under extreme pandemic control measures,” the authority said.

A high vaccination rate would also provide “the requisite foundation for Hong Kong to re-start international travel, which is crucial for us to maintain Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre,” the circular added.

It also urged banks to introduce incentives to encourage staff to get inoculated, for example, by giving extra days off to workers who have been fully vaccinated.