At least five banks are studying the possibility of following the government's example and introducing a five-day working week. This emerged yesterday, a day ahead of a meeting by a committee of the Hong Kong Association of Banks to study a proposal for five-day clearing, which would smooth the way for a five-day week. Association chairman Peter Wong Tung-shun said the proposal - under which clearing of cheques and electronic transfers on Saturdays would cease - would probably be adopted. Individual banks would then have to decide if they wanted to extend their business hours on Fridays. Five-day clearing would be favourable for banks if they wanted to have a five-day week, he said. Mr Wong, executive director of HSBC, said there was a good chance his bank would adopt a five-day week. He hoped its implementation would be in line with that of five-day clearing, widely expected to be in place by September at the earliest. He did not say if all 112 HSBC branches across Hong Kong would close on Saturdays as a result. 'The probability of customers not having banking services on Saturdays is very low,' he said. Hang Seng Bank vice-chairman Raymond Or Ching-fai said a five-day week at his bank was likely. 'A lot of details need to be well prepared, such as staff arrangements to maintain banking services on Saturday, staff training etc,' he said. Mr Or said it would be unlikely that the bank would introduce a five-day week before October. Bank of China said it was seriously studying the matter. Standard Chartered has a taskforce assessing whether a five-day week is likely to damage business operations. The bank may introduce a five-day week for some head office staff, a spokesman said. Shanghai Commercial Bank said it was exploring a five-day week for the 1,700 employees at its Hong Kong headquarters as well as 46 local and overseas branches. 'If we have to change to a five-day week, it will involve a great deal of co-ordination among a lot of departments in terms of operational changes. This is not something we can confirm in a short time,' said Esther Cheung, the bank's senior corporate communications officer. Both DBS and Citibank have introduced a five-day week for most non-frontline staff.