By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall
NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest U.S. lender, said on Tuesday it was working on a plan to bring thousands of employees currently working from home back onsite in phases, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
JPMorgan is the first big bank to announce steps to return to normal as debate grows over reopening the U.S. economy after the novel coronavirus shuttered businesses across the country and put a record 22 million people out of work.
“Two considerations are paramount as we plan for this across the firm: We want to do it at the right time — which may differ by region, country and state — and in a manner that prioritizes your health and safety,” the bank’s Operating Committee said in the memo.
Around 180,000 of JPMorgan’s more than 200,000 employees have been working from home, with around 25% of its bank branches closed, in an effort to protect employees from the virus, it has said. The bank continued to pay staff whose hours were reduced by their normal branches being closed.
The bank said Tuesday it does not have a firm timeline for when it will return employees to offices. It added that it will follow guidance from government and health authorities and would take into consideration concerns over access to transportation and school re-openings.
U.S. President Donald Trump has pressed states to begin easing restrictions on non-essential businesses, sparking criticism from some health officials who say doing so will lead to a second wave of infections.
The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that lifting lockdowns must be gradual or populations will risk a resurgence in cases of the deadly COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the virus.
New York City, home to JPMorgan’s headquarters, is in shutdown until at least May 15.
Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler.