By Cathy Chan
(Bloomberg) —JPMorgan Chase & Co., the first Wall Street bank to offer a quarantine subsidy in Hong Kong, is now handing out HK$1,800 (US$230) to each of its employees as the city grapples with its largest outbreak of infections during the pandemic.
The cash payment will allow staff to treat themselves and their families to a meal once the current restrictions are lifted, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman said. She wouldn’t provide the bank’s total headcount in the city.
The city has closed schools, bars and evening dining, and is planning a mass testing drive coupled with a lockdown to gain control of an outbreak that has overwhelmed its health-care system even as most of the world returns to normal. Banks are now facing a potential exodus of expatriate staff who are fed up with the city’s draconian measures, which also include a two-week quarantine for incoming travelers and a potential isolation in government run facilities.
JPMorgan last year was first to announce a reimbursement of US$5,000 to employees to compensate for hotel quarantine stays.
Frustrated and anxious about the government’s handling of Covid-19, some Hong Kongers are looking to flee. A net 71,000 people left the city in February, the biggest outflow since the pandemic began. The city reported a record of more than 55,000 daily new infections on Wednesday.
The bank is also offering 12 working hours off for employees to take vaccinations and earlier increased a reimbursement for technology needed to work at home to US$1,100, the spokeswoman said.
UBS Group AG is providing the ad hoc delivery of medical supplies for colleagues with confirmed or suspected cases, according to a spokesman. The bank also sends fresh fruit, a vitamin cocktail, a rapid test kit and provides a “virtual doctor” service with free delivery of medication.
In April 2020, Citigroup Inc. paid a special bonus of HK$8,000 to employees with annual salary of HK$470,000 or less.
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