Big US banks to employees: Return to the office vaccinated

Wall Street’s big investment banks are sending a message to their employees this summer: Get back into the office and bring your vaccination card.

New York-based Morgan Stanley said this week that all employees will be required to attest to their vaccination status. Those who are not vaccinated will be required to work remotely, which could potentially put their jobs at risk, since the bank’s top executives have said they want everyone back in the office by September.

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

Morgan Stanley is one of several big banks requiring employees to return to the office and also provide documentation of having received a coronavirus vaccine or making a formal declaration confirming vaccination.

Goldman Sachs required most of its employees to return to the office on June 14, with some exceptions extending that deadline to Sept. 30. It requires every employee to state their vaccine status, but does not require proof. JPMorgan is asking employees to submit their vaccination records as well, in the form of an internal portal.

The return-to-office push has its roots in banking-industry culture. Despite years of observing modernization and digital banking, the industry’s top executives still operate under a culture that prizes in-person meetings to carve out deals. This has made banks among the leading industries pushing for employees to return to the office as soon as possible as the pandemic wanes.

“We know from experience that our culture of collaboration, innovation and apprenticeship thrives when our people come together, and we look forward to having more of our colleagues back in the office so that they can experience that once again on a regular basis,” Goldman Sachs executives wrote in a memo to employees earlier this month.

This isn’t the first time banks have tried to return their employees to the office in the pandemic. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon tried to mandate a return to offices for traders back in September 2020, long before the availability of a vaccine. The experiment lasted less than a week, resulting in several traders becoming infected with COVID.

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