Making employees ‘whole’

Credit unions shift branch schedules, provide ‘business continuity pay.’

March 27, 2020

Credit unions continue to shift employee work schedules and branch hours to accommodate coronavirus (COVID-19) requirements. Many credit unions are paying employees for scheduled hours not worked to “make employees whole” during an unprecedented and anxiety-inducing time.

Bay Federal Credit Union in Capitola, Calif, has implemented hardship pay for employees who stay home if they can’t work remotely, those who are quarantined or in isolation, those who have contracted the coronavirus, or those who have an immediate relative with the virus who needs care.

“We implemented this two and a half weeks ago,” says Tonee Picard, executive vice president/chief development officer at the $1.1 billion asset credit union. “We were ahead of the curve.”

She says Bay Federal closed two of its seven branches and has more than 100 of its 230 employees working from home. It set up remote offices in closed branches for expanded call center employees.

“We’re using video conference extensively,” Picard says.

Few employees have opted for the hardship pay. Over two weeks, staff have used 600 hours. In  branches, Bay Federal also offers rotating hours so those on the front line have some mental downtime.

“Our employees really want to serve our membership during this time, and this shows in their desire to work from home, remote office options, or in the office and branches with less staff and social distancing,” Picard says.

CP Federal Credit Union in Jackson, Mich., went to limited staff on Monday, says Chrissy Siders, president/CEO of the $468 million asset credit union. Full-time front-line staff were split into two groups, with one group staying at home and receiving disaster relief pay.

The second group works at drive-thru windows at CP Federal’s six open branches. In two weeks, the groups will switch.

All part-time, front-office employees are at home, on-call, with full pay. “They will be utilized if an employee currently working is unable to work,” Siders says.

Most of the remaining staff works remotely. Those coming into the office are mostly leadership, mortgage, collections, or accounting staff, she says.

Siders says the credit union anticipated Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issuing a stay-at-home order, which she did Monday. “On Friday, we gave our staff essential employee letters in anticipation of that and set up anybody who could work from home to do that,” Siders says. “We had been preparing for that.”

Providing business continuity pay “is in our culture,” she says, adding the credit union is addressing two issues:  “How do our employees remain whole, and how do our members have the weight of this economic burden lifted off their shoulders?”

MECU Credit Union in Baltimore has limited service at six of its 10 branches. Three of the branches with lobby access have glass partitions at the teller windows, which have stayed open with limited transactions and a limited number of members allowed inside.

MECU closed one branch that does not offer drive-thru services or have glass partitions at the teller window. Some branch employees will not be asked to report until operations are fully restored, says Anthony Daniels, manager of organizational effectiveness and talent at the $1.2 billion asset credit union.

The credit union will compensate those employees for their regular hours, he says. “Based on the nature of the work performed by branch staff, those positions aren’t well-suited for telework.”