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Don't bank here if you smoke....Vimukt Dave

By - Priya Jagasia

If you are like your cigarette or gutkha, the Rajkot People's Co-operative Bank has no job for you. The bank does not hire anyone who smokes or chews tobacco. And, customers with these habits have to pay higher interest if availing a loan. "It is my belief that a person not addicted to smoking or chewing pan, gutkha or tobacco performs his / her duties in a far more better way than those who are addicted," says Shamjibhai Khunt, chairman. Adding "I hate bad habits; hence I believe it is my priority to ensure my staffers are not addicted. They are allowed to have only tea in the bank. If anyone smokes or chews tobacco, they are not allowed to work in my bank. It is strictly prohibited." Shamjibhai believes an addiction-free working environment saves time, money and one's life.

Employees are required to give an assurance that they do not smoke or chew tobacco or gutkha. "The board of the bank has the rights to make rules and regulations for smooth functioning of the bank. As far as this particular rule is concerned, the prospective employee is informed well before his joining and he is inducted in the bank only after he agrees to abide by the rule in writing," Khunt explained. The bank also reserves the right to terminate the job of an employee who gets addicted after joining the bank. As noted earlier, even customers who deal with the bank are not spared. A customer with these habits has to pay one per cent more interest on a loan.

Banking sources here say that barring one incident, nobody had till now objected to this rule. About 15 years earlier, an employee who was dismissed on these grounds took legal recourse. However, the bank won the legal battle against its former employee. However, cooperative bank experts say the move could later prove detrimental. "While the RBI may not have a direct guideline against smoking or any addiction, someone can lodge a complaint against the cooperative bank with the apex bank," says an expert. The bank has five branches in Rajkot and 75-odd employees. It proposes to start five new branches near Rajkot. It has 17,000 accounts, with Rs 96 crore of deposits.

 

Tobacco - Free

  • An employee has to give in writing that he/she has no habit of smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • An employee can be terminated if found to have such addiction later.
  • Even a customer with these habits has to pay 1% higher rate of interest for a financial service.
  • The bank's chairman applies these rules on students and their parents in schools run by him.