JPMorgan Chase orders up to half NY metro employees to work from home

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People pass a sign for JPMorgan Chase at it’s headquarters in Manhattan, New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase on Thursday told managers to implement a plan to have employees based in offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City to start working from home beginning on Friday.

“We are asking our managers to arrange for no fewer than 25% and no greater than 50% of their team members who can effectively work from home, to begin doing so by the end of this week,” according to a memo obtained by CNBC, which was sent to staff Thursday morning.

The move is likely to be followed be other large New York-area employers. JPMorgan said it was following the request of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reduce the density of workers at offices and taking mass transit. Still, sending wide swaths of employees home, as tech giants like Google and Amazon have done, signals an escalation in tactics as the coronavirus continues to spread.

JPMorgan said workers would be split into two or more groups, and that the first stay-at-home shift would last through next Friday. Then, that group returns to the office while others work remotely, a weekly rotation that will be in place “until further notice,” the New York-based bank giant said. The bank has about 37,000 workers in the New York area, according to Bloomberg, which reported earlier that the bank was sending workers home.

The new mandate excludes traders and bank branch employees, who can’t easily work from home. JPMorgan and other banks, including Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, have sent traders to backup sites in New Jersey and Brooklyn starting this week. That’s because highly regulated trading activities require robust internet connections and specialized work stations only available in offices.   

JPMorgan’s bank branches remain open, with the exception of ones in Seattle and New Rochelle, New York, two hot spots for the coronavirus disease, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The bank is cleaning its branches twice a day in high-impact areas, said another person. 

Yesterday, Capital One CEO Rich Fairbank told employees that those who can work from home should do so. The bank increased paid leave and said it was taking “additional precautions” to increase social distancing in its bank branches.

But not all banks have sent their employees home yet.

While Bank of America has told New York-area employees to be prepared to do so, it hasn’t yet announced a sweeping plan to have staff work remotely yet, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Goldman Sachs has also been preparing to have employees work remotely and at backup sites, but has yet to implement the plans, according to another person. 

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