No jab, no job: Citigroup to fire unvaccinated staff this month

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

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Jan. 7 (Reuters) – Staff at Citigroup Inc (CN) in the United States who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 14 will be placed on unpaid leave and laid off at the end of the month, unless ‘he would be granted an exemption, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The US bank announced its intention to impose new vaccination rules in October and is now the first major Wall Street institution to follow through on a strict vaccination mandate.

The move comes as the financial industry seeks to get workers back to their offices safely and resume operations as usual at a time when the highly infectious variant of the Omicron coronavirus 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 asked some unvaccinated employees to work from home, but none have yet. went so far as to lay off staff.

While Citigroup is the first bank on Wall Street to apply a vaccination warrant, a handful of other major US companies have introduced “no jab, no work” policies, including Google and United Airlines, to varying degrees. of rigor.

So far, more than 90% of Citigroup employees have complied with the warrant and that number is growing rapidly, the source said, adding that the timing of the vaccination warrant would be different for branch staff.

When announcing its policy, Citigroup also said it would assess exemptions for religious or medical reasons, or any other accommodation by national or local law, on a case-by-case basis.

The bank then said it was complying with the policy of the administration of US President Joe Biden requiring all workers supporting government contracts to be fully immunized, as the government was an “important and important” customer.

DIVISION QUESTION

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

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments on Friday regarding requests from Republican state officials and business groups to block a Biden warrant for companies with more than 100 workers that requires employees to be vaccinated or tested every week.

Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky, who advises companies on their return-to-power strategies, said many companies initially welcomed the White House mandate on vaccines because it removed the issue from them.

“However, companies recognize that Biden’s tenure may not stand in the conservative Supreme Court,” he said. “If that doesn’t hold up, they’re going to be handed the decision in their hands and they’ll have to do something about it.”

Many financial companies have pushed back plans to return to the office and encourage staff to get vaccinated and boosted, but have so far avoided vaccination warrants for legal reasons.

“This is going to be a difficult and complex policy to implement. The problem here is that there are a variety of different laws weighing on this,” said Chase Hattaway, partner at RumbergerKirk law firm, noting both the federal government and anti-discrimination. as well as a mosaic of state rules.

“Citi will need to adapt its policy to state law, and in many cases cities and municipalities will have different regulations as well, which may require even larger exemptions,” Hattaway said.

LEAVE WITHOUT PAY

Jacqueline Voronov, partner at Hall Booth Smith law firm, however, said courts upheld the right of private employers to demand vaccines amid a tidal wave of complaints from staff refusing to be vaccinated. .

“A private employer is allowed to impose their own policy. And if Citi wants to have a mandatory vaccination policy, they can do that. As long as they provide a medical exemption for someone who may have a contraindication. . Any challenge to this policy will be unsuccessful. ” she said.

A growing number of US companies have used vaccine requirements to protect their employees and prevent operations from being disrupted by massive staff absences.

United Airlines chief executive Scott Kirby said last month the carrier had laid off 200 of its 67,000 employees for failing to meet its mandate.

Of the 2,000 airline employees who have benefited from exemptions, half have moved on to non-customer-oriented positions. The other half have chosen not to apply for such positions and are on unpaid leave.

Many hospitals have fired staff for failing to follow mandates, which have been imposed on the health sector in more than 20 states.

While some companies such as Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) got more than 96% of their employees to take a vaccine, those in construction and retail have resisted vaccination mandates for fear of resistance from the vaccine. staff in a very tight labor market.

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Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and David Henry in New York; Additional reports by Tom Hals and Elizabeth Dilts; Written by Michelle Price and David Clarke; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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