(Bloomberg) -- Wells Fargo & Co. and BlackRock are pushing its return-to-office plans back a month to early October, citing rising COVID-19 rates across the U.S.
Wells Fargo, which has the largest workforce of any U.S. bank at almost 260,000 employees, will now begin bringing back staffers who have been working remotely starting Oct. 4 rather than Sept. 7, as previously announced, according to an internal memo Thursday from Chief Operating Officer Scott Powell.
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is delaying its previous September deadline for employees to come back to its offices, albeit with some remote work flexibility in place, according to a memo viewed by Bloomberg News on Thursday.
The delta variant “raises concerns about returning to the office – even for those who are vaccinated and particularly for those of you with dependents at home who are currently ineligible for the vaccine,” according to the memo, which was signed by BlackRock executives including Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldstein.
The delays come as companies across the financial industry and beyond grapple with adjusting their return-to-office plans amid climbing coronavirus cases tied to the highly contagious delta variant and changes in mask guidance across the country. The biggest U.S. banks have so far stopped short of requiring their employees to be vaccinated, in contrast with technology giants such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. and the state of California and New York City, which have said government employees will need the shots or weekly tests.
“The delta variant does not change the basic facts: vaccinated people are at lower risk of becoming infected with Covid-19, and much lower risk of becoming seriously ill and requiring hospitalization if they do become infected,” Powell wrote in the memo. The bank is offering eight hours paid time off for employees to get vaccinated. “Please take advantage of the extra time off that Wells Fargo offers for you to get vaccinated.”
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has also returned to requiring all employees currently working in offices to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, according to a Wells Fargo spokesperson.
Vaccinated employees at BlackRock were advised earlier this year that they should begin “re-acclimating” to office work beginning last month if they felt comfortable doing so. No unvaccinated employees have been allowed to enter the asset manager's U.S. offices since then, and that rule will remain in place, according to the memo.
About 50% of U.S. staff have worked from a BlackRock office in the past 30 days, according to the memo.