Big banks asking workers about vaccination status in bid to reopen

With COVID waning, financial firms are increasingly pushing back against the work from home trend

The National Post 3 minute read June 24, 2021

A nearly empty Wall Street in the Financial District of New York on Monday, March 30, 2020. Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

On Tuesday, Investment firm Morgan Stanley said staff will be returning to their offices starting next month, as long as they are fully vaccinated.

The company announced that masks and physical distancing guidelines would be lifted and clients and visitors would also have to be fully vaccinated before they enter their offices with an honour system in place.

Speaking at a conference, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said bluntly, “If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office.”

“[By] Labor Day (Sept. 6), I’ll be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office, and then we’ll have a different kind of conversation,” Gorman added, somewhat ominously. The executive would take a “dim view” of employees who didn’t return to work, according to FT.

Similarly, the world’s largest asset manager Blackrock Inc. announced it is bringing vaccinated workers back into offices in September while some remote work would be allowed each week. Citi, Credit Suisse, Barclays, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank have all announced similar plans to return by fall, according to FT.

Blackrock has also asked all employees to report their vaccination status by the end of June.

According to CNBC, Goldman Sachs has followed in similar shoes by asking all U.S. employees to disclose whether they are vaccinated or not.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said last month that employers asking for vaccination status from their workforce and asking them to return to work is completely legal, The New York Times reports.

Other banks, such as Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have asked workers to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status to ascertain whether they can come back to the office or not, the paper reported.

With COVID waning, financial firms are increasingly pushing back against the work from home trend. Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs told vaccinated workers to return to the office in the U.S by July. JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told its employees that by early July, “all U.S.-based employees will be in the office on a consistent rotational schedule.”

Bay Street, on the other hand, seemed to be in no rush to end remote work. Bankers in Toronto were “dodging” the pressure to return to work, according to Bloomberg. “If anything, [executives] rave about how surprisingly efficient and profitable the arrangement has been,” the outlet reported on June 8.

They may be the minority in the banking sector, though.

A survey of 400 North American financial services executives found that 78 per cent would prefer their employees to spend four to five days in the office after the pandemic ends. However, pushback is being expected. Office policies could hurt the chances of attracting talent, 70 per cent also said.

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