foreign banks

US banks tighten COVID-19 precautions as Omicron variant spreads

Reuters
US banks tighten COVID-19 precautions as Omicron variant spreads

BANK OF AMERICA. A Bank of America logo is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, January 30, 2019.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

With coronavirus cases hitting new highs in the United States, some of Wall Street's biggest banks are encouraging employees to work from home and get booster shots

US banks have been more proactive than other industries in encouraging employees back to the office, but those plans have come under renewed scrutiny due to the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Most major US banks have had staff working in offices since the summer, but some are now choosing not to host holiday parties and others are strongly recommending staff to get booster shots. The following are the pandemic-related rules among Wall Street’s biggest banks.

Bank of America

The bank is encouraging employees to work remotely in the first week of January, according to a person familiar with the matter. It will host on-site vaccine booster clinics for its staff across the country.

The lender since late summer has been encouraging employees to get fully vaccinated and now to get their booster shots when eligible. It offers onsite clinics in several locations.

Citigroup

Citigroup has also asked its employees to work from home during the first few weeks of 2022, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

On December 15, the bank told employees at its New York City office they could work from home if they were able to through the holidays, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The bank has been requiring employees in the United States to be vaccinated but is not mandating boosters. It is providing rapid test kits and encouraging testing for employees going into the office, a source said earlier.

Deutsche Bank

The German lender has made COVID-19 boosters available to staff at its new midtown headquarters in New York City since early November, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Goldman Sachs Group

As infections flared up in August due to the spreading of the Delta variant, the Wall Street bank mandated vaccines for all staff and visitors entering its offices in the United States.

Goldman postponed its remaining holiday parties in New York due to COVID-19 concerns, a source familiar with the matter said earlier this month. The bank had held holiday parties over the previous few weeks.

Goldman will require employees and visitors to its US offices to get booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, if eligible, starting February, according to a company spokesperson. The bank will also require staff to get tested twice weekly for COVID-19, starting January.

Jefferies

The investment bank requires all staff who want to enter its offices to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and has said it will require boosters by January 31, unless the person concerned is not yet eligible for the additional shot. The bank does not perform onsite testing.

On December 8, following a spate of cases, the bank asked staff to work from home where possible and canceled all but essential travel.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan has offered its staff the option of working from home for the first two weeks of 2022, with a caveat that all employees are expected to return to office no later than February 1, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

The biggest US bank, which has been one of the most aggressive in bringing employees back to the office, mandated face coverings for its US employees in August, saying they would be required to wear masks in public indoor settings and in common areas regardless of vaccination status.

The lender in October said that it would restrict business travel for employees who are unvaccinated or have not disclosed their vaccination status. Such employees are required to get tested twice a week and contribute more of their pay toward medical insurance. It also mandated vaccines for new recruits in client-facing roles.

In December, JPMorgan instructed unvaccinated staff in Manhattan to work from home. It also relaxed mask requirements for vaccinated staff working in its Manhattan offices. And, it told managers that they should evaluate more often “who should revert to working from home.”

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley is asking employees, contractors, and visitors to show proof of vaccination before entering its New York headquarters. The bank does not require additional COVID-19 testing for staff or visitors, a spokesperson said.

The bank expects staff who are not required to be in the office to take advantage of the ability to work from home and to spend more time with their families. But it is not sending staff home and does not have a work-from-home policy, a source familiar with the situation said.

Wells Fargo & Co.

The lender has said it strongly encourages employees to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine but does not require it. The bank was providing all employees with four hours of paid leave to get the booster shot if eligible.

The bank also required employees to either document that they are fully vaccinated or get tested regularly.

Fidelity Investments

The company said it had paused its voluntary return-to-office plans in New England, citing a rising risk from the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Rappler.com