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Goldman Sachs leads U.S. banks in return to office

Goldman Sachs‘ (GS.N) U.S.-based staff returned to the office for the first time this year on Tuesday, with rival banks set to follow in the coming days as COVID-19 cases drop.

Wall Street firms were among the first to encourage staff to return to offices, but a winter wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant led many to rethink their plans, instructing staff to work from home over the holidays and through January.

Many bank staff are now heading back to the office for the first time in several weeks.

Staff at Jefferies (JEF.N), the first major Wall Street bank to instruct employees to work from home in December, returned to the office Monday.

Chief Executive Rich Handler offered a special reward – dinner Monday evening for the first seven staff to respond via his Instagram account – provided they had a booster vaccine, were born in 1992 or later, and had been in the office that day.

Morgan Stanley (MS.N) is encouraging employees to return this month, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. JPMorgan (JPM.N), the country’s largest bank, expects staff to return to the office on a rotational basis this month, a spokesman said.

“It’s just great to be back in,” said one U.S. bank employee, who asked not to be named.

Next Monday, Citigroup (C.N) will revert to requiring New York City area employees to come into the office at least twice a week. Bank of America (BAC.N) began bringing staff back to offices last week in parts of the United States where new COVID-19 cases have started to decline.

Citi was the first and, so far only, bank to require staff to be vaccinated or be terminated unless they have an exemption.

Nearly all staff have now complied with that requirement, a person familiar with the matter said.

European banks are also bringing staff back into their U.S. offices.

BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) employees will start returning to the office next Monday. Deutsche Bank staff returned Monday and will have to present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of returning to the office, a person familiar with the matter said. Going forward, they will need to test for the virus once a week, and the bank has expanded on-site testing towards that effort, the source said.

Additional reporting by David Henry; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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