US banks pay special compensation to front-line workers amid coronavirus outbreak

NEW YORK (REUTERS) – Wells Fargo & Co will join other large US banks in paying out special compensation to front-line employees, according to a memo seen on Monday (March 23) by Reuters.

The San Francisco-based bank said all of its domestic full-time employees who make less than US$100,000 (S$145,700) a year would receive a pre-tax payment of US$600 and part-time employees would get a US$300 bonus.

Front-line employees like branch workers, call-center staff and technology specialists who are required to come into the office as others work from home because of the coronavirus outbreak will receive an additional US$200 per pay period starting April 17 for up to five paychecks, the memo said.

Management has also decided not to pay out a discretionary profit-sharing 401(k) contribution for 2019, citing the bank’s financial performance last year and the “extraordinary environment,” said the memo signed by Chief Executive Charlie Scharf.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman confirmed the contents of the memo.

Banks have largely been excluded from government-mandated shutdowns across the country because they are considered an essential industry by the federal government, meaning most bank branches, call centres and trading floors have stayed open even as many firms send their employees home.

“During this global public health emergency, we are especially grateful for those of you who continue to come into our branches, contact centres and other offices to serve customers and colleagues,” the memo said.

Earlier on Monday, Citigroup said it would pay US$1,000 to US employees who make US$60,000 or less in base salary.

JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest US bank by assets, said in a memo on Friday it would give workers who are staffing branches and call centers through the coronavirus pandemic a onetime US$1,000 bonus.

Bank of America Corp will also pay an additional US$200 per pay period to front-line workers in branches, call centres and operation centers, with enhanced overtime pay, according to a memo seen by Reuters on Friday.

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