JPMorgan Chase Banning In-Person Meetings for Unvaccinated Employees

Business travel is also off limits in new move

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JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank by assets and the largest private occupier of office space in Manhattan, is banning business travel and in-person meetings for employees who are not vaccinated against the novel coronavirus or who will not disclose whether they’ve gotten their shots.

The bank announced the moves — which take effect immediately — through an internal memo on Monday.

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“To do our part to keep our colleagues, clients and communities safe and because clients are increasingly asking us to ensure meetings are restricted to vaccinated employees, we are putting the following measures in place,” the memo read. “We understand that not everyone will agree with our thinking and approach. And while we fully respect individual choice, we believe it is our responsibility to undertake these steps for our company, and most importantly for the health and safety of all our employees and families.”

The bank is also bringing the hammer down on the unvaccinated via higher payroll deductions to cover the cost of COVID testing and health insurance. Those moves take effect next year, according to the memo, and employees will, in fact, know just how much more they’ll be paying as soon as Tuesday — enrollment in the company’s benefits for 2022 starts then. New employees in client-facing roles or those requiring business travel will also have to be vaccinated from the get-go.

A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment further on the moves beyond the memo. Bloomberg was first with the news.

JPMorgan Chase started bringing employees back to the office in the summer on a rotational basis. It remains unclear, though, just what a post-COVID workplace will look like at the bank. JPMorgan Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon caused a collective cardiac arrest for the real estate industry when he said in his annual shareholders letter in April that “remote work will change how we manage our real estate … As a result, for every 100 employees, we may need seats for only 60 on average. This will significantly reduce our need for real estate.”

Dimon’s letter caused even more agita among commercial real estate professionals as it came just weeks after the bank announced it intended to sublease some 800,000 square feet of office space at 4 New York Plaza and 5 Manhattan West.

In the same letter, though, Dimon said the company had every intention of finishing and occupying its 2.5 million-square-foot headquarters planned at 270 Park Avenue in Manhattan.

Finally, JPMorgan’s machinations regarding the office and returning to it come as the commercial real estate industry, owners especially, rely less heavily on banks and other financial houses to drive the Manhattan market. That’s up to tech now.

Tom Acitelli can be reached at tacitelli@commercialobserver.com.