Citigroup will lay off unvaccinated workers through January 31, a first for Wall Street banks

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Citigroup will be the first major Wall Street institution to enforce a vaccination mandate by laying off non-compliant workers by the end of this month.

The bank reminded employees in a memo sent on Friday of its policy, first published in October, that “must be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment”. The bank announced at the time that employees would have to present a vaccination card by January 14th.

Those who fail by next week will be put on unpaid vacation, with their last day of employment being January 31, according to the memo first reported by Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for the New York bank declined to comment.

Citigroup, the third largest US bank by asset and a major player in the bond markets, has had the most aggressive vaccination policy among Wall Street firms. Rival banks like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have so far stopped firing unvaccinated employees.

Citigroup, headed by CEO Jane Fraser since March last year, said it made the decision because, as a government contractor, it had to comply with President Joe Biden’s vaccine regulation. The bank also said enforcing the mandate would help ensure the safety of employees returning to office work.

More than 90% of employees adhere to the vaccination requirement, and that number increases as the deadline approaches, according to an expert. The bank had 220,000 employees at the end of last year, though the policy only applies to employees based in the United States.

While some tech companies have embraced teleworking as a permanent model, Wall Street CEOs including JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman have vocalized the need to retire workers.

But the proliferation of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has forced companies to once again suspend plans to return to work, making it the latest disruption caused by the pandemic.