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Hours of Business - 1939 to 1945
 
BMB in World War II
 
The Hours of Business operated by the Bank's branches during the Second World War were influenced by two factors:
 
  - the shortage of experienced staff (a total of 81 staff, out of an establishment of about 230 staff, joined the Armed Forces during the War):  this resulted in certain
    branches being combined, ie pairs of branches being opened on a half-week basis and being staffed by the same officers.
    Details are given at World War II - Combination of Branches;
 
- the imposition of 'black-out' regulations (to prevent artificial light being seen by enemy aircraft): this resulted in the withdrawal of evening opening during the winter
  months. The background to the Bank's decision regarding Opening Hours is shown by the following extracts from Committee reports.
 
Report by J P Hilton, General Manager (September 1939)
 
In consequence of the War, and with a view to helping (as far as possible) the Authorities charged with the safety of the City and its inhabitants, the Committee are invited to consider a revision of the present Bank hours, which are as follows:
 Monday
 10am to 2:30pm 
 6pm to 8pm
 Tuesday
10am to 2:30pm
 
 Wednesday
10am to 2:30pm
 
 Thursday
 10am to 12 noon
 
 Friday
10am to 2:30pm
 6pm to 8pm
 Saturday
 10am to 1pm
 

Official Notices, repeatedly issued, ask the public to keep off the streets during the times fixed for the 'black-out'. The public are responding, and during the winter I believe the public will be less inclined to leave their homes during the period of the 'black-out'.

The provision of reasonable banking facilities is, naturally, our chief concern, and in my judgement, depositors would suffer less inconvenience and be able to carry through their transactions with greater safety if the Bank hours were restricted to the day time.

No real inconvenience would result from discontinuing evening hours of business. Deposits and withdrawals can be made by deputy or through the post, as is frequently done at present.

The employment of the Staff during evening hours, especially the females, is inadvisable, and moreover it interferes with the voluntary service which the Staff, already trained, are giving in connection with civil defence. In any case, I do not consider it wise to expose the female Staff to the risk of travelling from Branches to their homes late at night.

There is another objection to evening hours of opening under existing conditions, viz: the lighting restrictions, and if we can avoid as much as possible the necessity of using lights, we shall be rendering good service.

The curtailment of Joint Stock Bank hours necessitates an adjustment in our procedure. Our hours were devised so that we could obtain money from the Joint Stock Banks between 9:30am and 10am and pay money into such Banks between 2:30pm and 3pm. We can accommodate ourselves to the restricted hours without much difficulty so far as Branches with three or more of a staff are concerned, but some adjustment will be necessary to deal with Branches staffed by only two officers. It means that during the time one officer is making his journey to and from the Joint Stock Bank the Branch will be left with one officer. When the Joint Stock Bank is near to the Branch the risk is not great, but where it is some considerable distance, as in a few cases, we shall have to make other arrangements from Head Office.

Assuming evening hours will be discontinued, the question of a suitable extension of day hours arises. From talks I have had with several depositors, with the Branch Managers, and with the Staff Committee, there appears to be a strong opinion that most depositors who have been in the habit of using the Bank during evening hours would find it convenient to make their journeys on Saturday afternoons. That being so, I am inclined to suggest the following amended hours to apply throughout the winter:
 Monday
 10am to 2:30pm 
 Tuesday
10am to 2:30pm
 Wednesday
10am to 2:30pm
 Thursday
 10am to 12 noon
 Friday
10am to 2:30pm
 Saturday
 10am to 4pm

This only means a reduction of one hour on the total hours now provided.

I think it would be unreasonable to extend Saturday hours beyond 4pm because the Staff have to leave home about 8am and would not reach home again until 6pm. I also consider it reasonable that the Staff should have one official half day for rest, preparatory to their voluntary service in the Civil Defence organisations.

By adopting the above suggestion we are keeping to existing day hours on Mondays to Fridays, to which depositors are accustomed.

So far as the three evening Branches are concerned, I would bring them into line with other Branches. Staff can be provided.
 

Report of Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee (January 15th 1940)

Your Sub-Committee have considered the question of reverting to the Monday and Friday evenings for the opening of Branches instead of Saturday afternoons when the increased hours of daylight would enable this to be done. They have authorised the General Manager to take steps accordingly and to give appropriate notice thereof to depositors at such time as he may consider appropriate.

Report of Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee (October 21st 1940)

Your Sub-Committee have given further consideration to this question, as a result of one or two requests made for an alteration in the present hours. As from the 16th September, the premises are opened as last year during the black-out period viz, without evening hours of business on Mondays and Fridays, but with extended Saturday openings until 4pm

The opinion of representatives of Labour was sought on the matter but no clear recommendations have been received. Your Sub-Committee feel, however, that the day openings might be extended to 3pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, leaving Thursdays and Saturdays as at present. Your Sub-Committee do not consider evening hours of business desirable under existing conditions.

It is accordingly recommended that the new hours of business should be introduced as and from the 1st November 1940.
 
Report by General Manager (January 13th 1944)
 

Analysis of hours worked by staff for 3 months ended 30th November, 1943 shows the average to be 43 hours per week. When previous analysis was made, average was 39 hours. The average of 43 hours is confirmed by an examination of Branch returns, and can be classified as follow:

Largest type of branch                    42 hours

Second largest type of Branch       42   "

Medium type of Branch                   44   "

Smaller Branches                   43     "

Under these circumstances, there would appear to be no justification for extending hours of duty. It will be appreciated that a large proportion of temporary staff cannot be compelled to work more than 40 hours per week. Many members of permanent staff worker longer hours than 43 per week, due to inexperience of temporary employees who cannot perform the duties in the same way as more experienced persons.

Report by General Manager (July 1945)
 

With the ending of 'black-out' conditions and the reduction in evening employment at works and factories, consideration may now be given to the question of Hours of Business.

Pre-war, and present hours of business are given below:
Pre-'Black-out' Hours
 
 Monday
 10am to 2:30pm 
 6pm to 8pm
 Tuesday
10am to 2:30pm
 
 Wednesday
10am to 2:30pm
 
 Thursday
 10am to 12 noon
 
 Friday
10am to 2:30pm
 6pm to 8pm
 Saturday
 10am to 1pm
 
 Total
27 hours
 
 Average staff
    working hours
38
 
 General
    Corporation hours
38
 
Present Hours
 
 Monday
 10am to 3pm 
 Tuesday
10am to 3pm
 Wednesday
10am to 3pm
 Thursday
 10am to 12 noon
 Friday
10am to 3pm
 Saturday
 10am to 4pm
 Total
28 hours
 Average staff
    working hours
37
 General
    Corporation hours
38

It will be appreciated that whereas Corporation staffs generally are allowed 1 hour or 1 hours for a mid-day meal, which can be taken off the premises, the Bank staff have to take their meals on the premises. At Head Office definite periods of hour are allowed to each member of staff, but at Branches the meal has to be taken as business permits and equals hour per officer.

Amongst Trustee Savings Banks there is a great variation in the matter of hours of business, but twelve of the largest Banks provide weekly hours as follows:

                       Glasgow                               34

                       Edinburgh                            32

                       Manchester & Salford         31

                       Aberdeen                             37

                   York County               28

                       Liverpool                               31

                       Dundee                                37

                   Sheffield                   29

                       Nottingham                          32

                East Anglia               33

                Blackburn                 36

                Boston & District       33

Although these Banks provide longer banking hours than we do, the staff working hours do not greatly differ. In three cases I have tested, viz: Glasgow, Manchester and York, the hours approximate to 40 per week. The position is met by a later starting hour in some cases, and by allowing 1 to 1 hours for a mid-day meal.

We are, to some extent, governed by the standard of working hours of Corporation staffs, which is 38, and in deciding new permanent hours for depositors that should be kept in mind.

To assist the Committee in reaching a decision, I had a record kept at twelve branches of transactions hour by hour for the week ended 19th May 1945, which shows as follows:
                                                 
 Average Number of Transactions
 Mon
Tues 
Wed 
Thurs 
Fri 
 Sat
 Between 10am and 11am 
 58
 85
 64
 64
 42
 64
          "       11am and 12 noon
 62
 91
 71
 57
 37
 67
          "       12 noon and 1pm
 52
 61
 38
 --
 32
 55
          "       1pm and 2pm
 35
 37
 23
 --
 21
 28
          "       2pm and 2:30pm
 24
 27
 13
 --
 17
 37
          "       2:30pm and 3pm
 54
 42
 18
 --
 27
 19
          "       3pm and 4pm
 --
 --
 --
 --
 --
 45

I asked for the period 2pm to 3pm to be divided to ascertain the difference between closing at 2:30pm as formerly, and 3pm as at present. Figures appear to justify the 3pm closing, and Branch Managers consider the extended half hour to be a convenience to housewives. I think we should accept that view.

Since the Bank was established in 1919, Thursday has been the recognised staff half holiday. It was fixed when evening openings were provided on Mondays and Saturdays, and continued when Friday evening was substituted for Saturday some years later, owing to the change in practice of paying wages at works and factories. There was trend, noticeable pre-war, towards ceasing work earlier on Saturdays so as to obtain a longer weekend period, and some firms adjusted their hours so as to avoid working on Saturdays.

Savings Bank opinion is divided on the question of future hours of business now under consideration. For instance, York County, Blackburn and Nottingham do not favour a reversion to evening hours; Glasgow will probably continue with two evenings; the rest are inclined to opening on one evening only, which they deem sufficient.

My view is that we should adopt Saturday 12 noon as the early closing day and staff holiday, instead of Thursday, and that the Bank should be open from 10am to 3pm from Monday to Friday inclusive. As regards evening hours, I suggest 6 to 8pm on Friday would meet our position.

If these suggestions are accepted, the new hours of business and the corresponding working hours would be:

 
 Hours of business
 Working hours 
 Monday 
 10am to 3pm
9am to 4pm 
 Tuesday
 10am to 3pm
 9am to 4pm
 Wednesday
 10am to 3pm
 9am to 4pm
 Thursday
 10am to 3pm
 9am to 4pm
 Friday
 10am to 3pm
 9am to 4pm
                 and
 6pm to 8pm
 5:30pm to 8:30pm
 Saturday
 10am to 12 noon
 9am to 12:30pm
 Totals:
 29 hours
 39 hours

Although this shows an increase of one hour over the standard for Corporation staffs generally, it does not follow that it would actually be the case. The working hours have been based on an allowance of hour for mid-day meal and a leaving time of 4pm on five days of the week, but where there are a small number of transactions the staff would be able to get away earlier than 4pm. At larger Branches work is not likely to be completed before 4pm. All officers are required to commence work at 9am, but the hour of leaving is left to the Manager, who must be satisfied that essential work has been done. There are pressure periods, when the leaving hour may be later; and times when extra hours have to be worked in tracing excess or short cash, but these can be ignored in considering this matter.

I am not sure how the temporary staff would react to an evening opening. Some would welcome the change so long as they can have Saturday afternoon; some would have difficulty in arranging for the care of their children; while others do not seem to have any decided opinion.
 
Report by General Manager (November 1945)
 

The Committee, at the meeting on the 16th July 1945, approved the principle of closing all offices of the Bank on Saturday afternoons instead of Thursday afternoons, and of opening on Friday evenings, but deferred fixing specific hours to a later meeting. In the meantime, I was directed to consider the most appropriate times of opening, and the date when the change of hours should take place.

I think uniformity in hours of business from Monday to Friday desirable, and suggest 10am to 3pm. The choice of hours on Saturdays lies between 10am to 12 noon; 10am to 12:30pm; or 10am to 1pm.

With regard to evening hours, either Monday or Friday would be the most acceptable. I incline to the opinion that, inasmuch as workers generally receive their wages on Fridays, we should be open on that evening for two hours, say, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, or from 6pm to 8pm.

The war-time emergency hours still in operation total 28 per week. The suggested hours, with closing at 12 noon on Saturdays, would total 29 hours and involve an average staff working week of 39 hours compared with the Corporation standard of 38 hours. If the Saturday closing hour is extended beyond 12 noon, the working hours would be increased to the same extent.

A convenient date to make the change would be the 1st January 1946.
 
Branch Hours
of Opening
 
 Monday 
 10am to 3pm
 Tuesday
 10am to 3pm
 Wednesday
 10am to 3pm
 Thursday
 10am to 3pm
 Friday
  10am to 3pm
                   and
  6pm to 8pm
 Saturday
 10am to 12 noon
 
Total 29 hours
The Bank's Committee of Management agreed to the Hours of Business shown in the adjoining table. These were reviewed in 1947, as detailed at Hours of Business - 1947 Review,
which also includes the views of two depositors