Political currents have brought banks and banking, always a subject of puzzling curiosity to the general public, close up to the popular gaze. It would seem an opportune moment for a little inside information concerning that man of mystery on the other side of the counter - the English bank clerk; and we may keep in mind as our background the general economic conditions of the body politic.
In this brief article, I shall attempt something like an appraisement of the male employee's economic position, leaving out of consideration that of the female element, introduced into the banks, first through the War, and secondly through the advent of mechanisation, as constituting a different problem.
Security of tenure. - I think it is safe to say that not one man has been dismissed through the hardness of the times. Dismissals have, of course, taken place through dishonesty and other forms of misconduct, but though the banks have been hit like other businesses in the great depression, no bank clerk has suffered anxiety upon that score.
Mechanisation of banking. - No man has been dismissed through this modern method of working a bank, though it does cause a redundancy of staff, for throughout the period of inevitable dislocation of duties those affected have been absorbed into other departments of the banks' administration.
Income Tax. - Up till 1931 the bank clerk's income tax was paid by the banks. Since then he has had to pay a certain proportion himself, but the major portion is still paid for him.
Holidays. - There are few business concerns so generous in the matter of granting vacation as the banks. The youngest junior is entitled to a fortnight's holiday, and others according to length of service can reckon upon varying periods up to a month.
Illness. - Banks are very considerate to their employees in ill-health. A man might be six months or even twelvemonth away ill, and yet not necessarily lose his job, or even his position. How many other businesses with all the desire possible to be humane can afford to be so considerate? Even in the so called "bad old days" before the War the writer can testify with gratitude to the kindest treatment in this respect. Five months' leave of absence on full pay saved him from a dread disease; and not so very long after, another period of three months on full pay, on account of contracting scarlet fever.
Pensions. - Unlike many other business concerns, the bank clerk can look forward with an easy mind towards the enjoyment of an income after reaching a pensionable age. Those of the general public who have to scrape and save in order to accumulate funds for a similar end in view, and those who can never hope for a pension unless it be the old age pension provided by the State, will appreciate, perhaps better even than the bank clerk, the great boon of such a condition of service.
Widows and Orphans' Fund. - Then there is generally a scheme to which both bank and staff contribute, which provides an annuity to widows and grants of money to young orphans of deceased employees. So that a bank clerk not only has a pension to look forward to but has the reassurance of knowing that his dependant's will be financially secure.
The Modern Bank Clerk
Memories of the benefits of working in a bank in 1935