Israeli lender Bank Hapoalim has secured approval for a cost-cutting plan from its board that will result in early retirement of 1,500 employees from 2017 to 2020.

The latest redundancies are on top of the 300 employees who already retired or are expected to leave the bank voluntarily in 2016 as part of a previous efficiency plan. The layoffs will be carried out in co-operation with the bank's employee union, the lender said.

Bank Hapoalim CEO Arik Pinto said: “Management has undertaken a particularly challenging efficiency program, together with plans and activities aimed at business growth. We believe in efficiency as a way of life, as long as it is done sensitively and in full cooperation with the Employee Union of the bank.

“In doing so, we work hard to continuously improve our operating model, using technology to streamline work processes and improve customer service.”

The efficiency plan is estimated to cost NIS1.2bn shekels ($313.7m). The bank said that the cost of the plan in terms of the capital adequacy ratio will be over the course of five years to prevent an immediate and impact on the ratio.

The bank said that it plans to reap annual savings of NIS450m before tax, beginning from 2021.