Work half the week from home, French bank tells staff

France’s largest bank has told its 132,000 staff they can continue working from home until 2024 as lenders race to prevent staff from quitting post-pandemic. 

BNP Paribas has told workers across Europe they can stay at home for two and a half days a week for at least another two years. 

However the plan is understood to exclude BNP Paribas’s UK arm, with the agreement to allow home working for the next two years jointly signed with the bank and representatives of two European trade unions. 

Insiders at the bank’s London office said flexible working is currently allowed but it is not yet clear what the long-term plan will be. 

Nick Le Riche, an employment partner for BDB Pitmans, said that UK companies are “mostly keeping things under review” while they weigh up the potential long-term impacts of home working. 

“As companies assess the year post-lockdown they might look to cement things a bit more one way or the other,” he said. 

The move suggests the bank will never return to the traditional nine-to-five office shift following an uphill battle in the finance industry to get staff back in full-time. 

As well as allowing workers to stay home, BNP has also agreed to foot the bill for costs related to remote working such as making more meals at home, Bloomberg reported. 

Financial institutions have been offering a host of new or upgraded benefits in the wake of the Covid crisis as the sector tries to tackle burnout and prevent staff from moving to other industries.

However the banking sector is divided over whether staff should be able to continue working flexibly, with most Wall Street lenders taking a much tougher stance on the return to work than their European rivals. 

The flexibility tabled also depends on individual roles, with traders and investment bankers largely expected to be at their desks more than others due to compliance concerns. 

The Financial Conduct Authority warned banks earlier this year that risks from misconduct may be “heightened by home working” as more people turn to unmonitored forms of communication such as WhatsApp to share potentially sensitive information about work.

It said such actions are considered serious and warned the topic would “remain an area of focus”.  

BNP Paribas did not respond to a request for comment. 

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