Some 17,000 employees of banking giant HSBC can choose the time they start and will be able to work from home under a policy that will come into effect early next month. The bank, which announced the new 'flexible working policy' yesterday, said it was not a cost-cutting measure and it should not be interpreted as such. HSBC slashed about 650 jobs on three separate occasions in September and November last year, and April this year. A bank spokeswoman said: 'The flexible working policy is not aimed at cutting costs.' She also assured clients that security would not be compromised even when staff worked from home. She said the new policy was in response to staff feedback from an annual employee survey. From July 6, all bank staff may request to work flexible hours and work from home for a maximum of two days a week. At present, HSBC staff are on a five-day work week, with some frontline employees working on Saturdays. 'We do not think the new policy will cause many operational or management difficulties. Instead, we believe this could enhance staff productivity by helping them achieve a better work-life balance,' she said. The policy will apply to all staff levels.