No jab, no job: Citigroup is firing unvaccinated staff this month – memo

January 7 (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc (CN) Staff in the United States who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 14 will be put on unpaid leave and fired at the end of the month unless they are granted a waiver, according to a company note seen by Reuters on Friday. .

The US bank announced its plan to introduce new vaccination rules in October and will now be the first major Wall Street institution to follow up with a strict vaccine mandate.

Its move comes as the financial industry struggles with how to bring workers back to offices safely and get back to business as usual at a time when the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant is spreading like wildfire.

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Other major Wall Street banks, including Goldman Sachs & Co., (GS.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), have told some unvaccinated employees to work from home, but no one has yet gone so far as to fire staff.

While Citigroup is the first Wall Street bank to enforce a vaccine mandate, a handful of other large U.S. companies have introduced “no-jab, no-job” policies, including Google and United Airlines, with varying degrees of stringency.

More than 90% of Citigroup employees have complied with the mandate so far, and that number is rising rapidly, according to a source familiar with the matter, adding that the timing of the vaccination mandate would be different for department staff.

When announcing its policy, Citigroup also said it would consider exceptions on religious or medical grounds, or any other accommodation under state or local law, on a case-by-case basis.

The bank said at the time that it adhered to the administration of US President Joe Biden’s policy, which requires all workers who support government contracts to be fully vaccinated, as the government was a “big and important” customer.

“You are welcome to apply for other roles at Citi in the future, as long as you adhere to Citi’s vaccination policy,” the bank said in the note. “If you have not been vaccinated, we encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

DIVISIONAL QUESTIONS

Vaccination has become a divisive issue in the United States, as it has become in many countries around the world, where some people are fiercely opposed and many Republicans critical of mandates imposed by governments and corporations.

It was the US Supreme Court hearing arguments on Friday over requests from Republican government officials and business groups to block a Biden mandate for companies with more than 100 workers that require employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

The Citigroup Inc (Citi) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Photo taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS / Chris Helgren / File Photo

Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky, who advises companies on their return-to-office strategies, said many companies initially welcomed the White House vaccine mandate because it took the matter out of their hands.

“But companies are recognizing that the Biden mandate may not hold up to the Conservative Supreme Court,” he said. “If it does not hold, then they get the decision back in their hands and they will have to do something.”

Many financial firms have pushed back their return-to-office plans, urging staff to be vaccinated and boosted, but have so far avoided vaccine mandates for legal reasons.

“This is going to be a challenging and complex policy to implement,” said Chase Hattaway, a partner at law firm RumbergerKirk, noting that the bank needs to navigate federal anti-discrimination and other state laws.

“Citi will have to tailor its policy to state law, and in many cases, cities and municipalities will also have different rules that may require even more opt-outs,” Hattaway said.

UNPAYED CONTROL

However, Jacqueline Voronov, a partner at law firm Hall Booth Smith, said the courts have upheld the right of private employers to order vaccines.

“A private employer is allowed to impose its own policy. And if Citi wants to have a mandatory vaccination policy, they can do so,” she said, provided the bank offers medical exemptions.

An increasing number of U.S. companies have used vaccine requirements to protect employees and prevent operations from being disrupted by staff absenteeism.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said last month that the airline fired 200 of its 67,000 employees for non-compliance with its mandate.

Many hospitals have fired staff for failing to comply with mandates that have been imposed on the healthcare industry in more than 20 states.

While some companies like Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) has gotten more than 96% of its employees to take a vaccine, those in construction and retail have opposed vaccine mandates due to fears of staff resistance in the midst of a very tight labor market.

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Additional reporting Niket Nishant in Bengaluru, Tom Hals and Elizabeth Dilts; Written by Michelle Price and David Clarke; Edited by Amy Caren Daniel, Nick Zieminski, Jonathan Oatis and Diane Craft

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