By Thomas Barrabi
Citigroup has informed employees they will be fired if they do not comply with a companywide vaccine requirement by Jan. 14, establishing the most stringent vaccination policy to date for a major bank.
The bank reminded workers in a memo Friday they must submit proof of vaccination by the end of next week, reiterating a deadline first established in October. But the memo warned that staffers who ignore the requirement will be placed on unpaid leave and terminated on Jan. 31, according to multiple reports.
Citigroup took its hardline stance on the vaccine requirement amid a record surge in daily COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. Several major banks, including Citigroup, have told employees to work from home to start the new year due to the spike.
Bloomberg was first to report on the memo. Citigroup could not immediately be reached for comment.
More than 90 percent of Citigroup employees have already complied with the vaccination requirement, a spokesperson for the bank told Bloomberg. The bank previously said it would consider exemptions on religious or medical grounds and other accommodations on a case-by-case basis.
Employees who dodge the vaccine requirement may be eligible for year-end bonuses, but only if they agree not to pursue legal action to obtain the money, the memo added, according to Bloomberg.
Citigroup first announced its vaccine requirement in October, though the bank did not initially say noncompliant workers would be fired. The policy followed the Biden administration’s directive requiring federal contractors to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated. At the time, Citi noted the federal government was a “large and important” client.
Other major banks have taken a softer approach to vaccinations.
Last month, JPMorgan told unvaccinated employees “to work from home temporarily until alternative solutions are considered.” At the same time, the bank relaxed mask requirements for vaccinated staffers.
In October, JPMorgan told employees it would no longer hire unvaccinated individuals for client-facing roles.
Morgan Stanley has taken a similar stance. In July, the bank began revoking building access for unvaccinated employees.
Goldman Sachs begin requiring employees to disclose their vaccination status last summer. In August, the bank told employees that anyone entering its US offices must be fully vaccinated.
The vaccination policies have complicated efforts by big banks to return to normal operations amid an uneven economic recovery from the pandemic. Several top bank executives are adamant that a return to office culture is critical to their business.
During a November conference call, a Morgan Staney director told young employees they were “nuts not to be in the office all the time,” The Post reported.
Newly installed New York City Mayor Eric Adams is already pushing banks to return to their offices as quickly as possible. Earlier this week, he argued banks and businesses “have to open up” to support a full citywide recovery.