The headquarters of JPMorgan Chase in New York. Picture: REUTERS
The headquarters of JPMorgan Chase in New York. Picture: REUTERS

New York — JPMorgan Chase is planning to implement a staggered work-from-home plan for its New York-area employees after the governor asked businesses to help the state slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The bank will split the workers, with one group working from home while the other is in the office, according to people with knowledge of the matter. After a week, the groups will rotate. The plan applies to most corporate employees based in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey, but not to branch workers or traders, one of the people said. The firm sent its Seattle-area employees home last week.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in an interview on CNN on Wednesday that he would ask businesses to voluntarily consider staggering shifts for employees and letting them telecommute to help stem the spread of the highly contagious virus.

New York cases jumped to 212 on Wednesday after not having a single case less than two weeks ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

JPMorgan has about 37,000 employees in the New York metro area, which includes New Jersey, about half of which are branch employees. Workers in the first group will telecommute up to March 20 and return to the office on March 23, according to the person.

US companies have rapidly ramped up responses to the virus, sometimes adjusting their business continuity plans by the hour, as the rate of people testing positive with Covid-19 has accelerated.

Citigroup announced plans this week to send about half its workforce in the New York area home. Capital One Financial employees were urged to work remotely if possible as the firm also seeks to reduce density among staff in branches.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo told some employees on Wednesday to test their ability to work from home for a day.

JPMorgan had previously moved cohorts of its sales and trading staff off of the main floor in Manhattan to back-up locations in New Jersey and Brooklyn as part of its business continuity plan. Last week, it also sent home workers in the Seattle area, which has the highest number of cases in the US.

The bank has banned non-essential domestic and international travel and urged workers to postpone unnecessary large group meetings and activities.

The coronavirus outbreak is a pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared on Wednesday. It urged governments to step up containment efforts as the number of worldwide cases top 127,000, of which more than 68,000 have recovered (mostly in China), and deaths exceed 4,700, according to the John Hopkins University coronavirus resource centre.


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