Citigroup to offer up to 12-week sabbaticals to staff | Business

The Wall Street bank Citigroup will offer employees 12-week sabbaticals as part of a benefits package prompted by a review of bankers’ work-life balance after the coronavirus crisis proved staff were working productively – and happily – from home.

Employees will also be allowed to volunteer with a charity for up to four weeks full-time while Citi covers 100% of their regular salary. It is understood the new work setup will be offered to the bank’s US staff first, but will eventually being extended to Citi’s 8,000 UK bankers as part of a global rollout.

A recent Citi survey showed the bank’s employee satisfaction increased during the pandemic and that many staff preferred home working, which can offer greater flexibility to bankers usually trapped in offices during long work days.

Citi is now planning to review all of its global roles at the beginning of 2021 to help determine which staff may benefit from home working regularly in the long term.

That is on top of the new scheme that will allow staff to take up to two sabbaticals during their tenure, lasting 12 weeks each, while receiving 25% of their regular pay. Separate to the sabbaticals, staff will also be allowed two stints of charity volunteering on full pay. They must work for the bank for at least five years before being allowed to use either scheme.

The perks, which were first reported by Bloomberg, will also include the ability to buy up to five extra days of annual holiday, which is already available to UK staff.

Citi is just the latest firm to review its approach to work and staff benefits during the pandemic.

The London-headquartered banking group Standard Chartered announced last month it was permanently shifting to flexible working by letting staff apply for their ideal mix of home and office work from early 2021. That will apply to the bank’s 2,000 employees in London, where about 10% of staff have been going into the office since coronavirus hit.

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The US banking company JP Morgan is also expecting up to 30% of its almost 257,000 global employees to work remotely in future, at least part of the time.

Bruce Carnegie-Brown, the chairman of Lloyd’s, the world’s biggest insurance market, said: “I’d be very surprised if anybody, particularly in the services sector, really needs to be in the office five days a week, physically, as a future model. But we need to be quite adaptive, quite flexible and quite specific, job role by job role.”

Lloyd’s is opening its doors three days a week only, and welcoming up to 250 workers a day, compared with 6,000 pre-pandemic. Brokers and underwriters have been working largely remotely since coronavirus restrictions came into force.

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