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Go home! Credit Suisse tells employees to stop working Saturdays

Published time: January 14, 2014 14:12
Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett

Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett

Credit Suisse has joined the ranks of investment banks encouraging their employees to take some time off on the weekend, as part of a larger corporate overhaul to improve working conditions.

Switzerland’s second largest bank, a big player on Wall Street, issued an internal note Monday saying analysts and associates should not be in the office between 6:00p.m. Fridays and 10:00am Sunday.

The bank’s head of investment banking, Jim Amine, said the policy is a step “to improve the junior banker experience” which will in theory increase employee retention and the in-company promotion process.

Employees are still expected to respond to emails over the weekend “in a timely manner” but should try and put off conference calls until early Sunday, according to the memo. Teams can request to have employees in the office for specific deals, and any “live deals” falling over the weekend must be attended to.

Investment banking, which is notorious for 100-hour work weeks and a cut-throat atmosphere, often requires junior bankers to be at a clients’ beck and call, even if that means being in the office in the middle of the night.

The average American working week for private firms is 34.4 hours, and includes two days off. Wall Street bankers will never work less than 40 hours a week, but by providing more concrete guidelines on when analysts can’t be in the office, they could provide more social and economic benefits to the company.

The US culture of “time is money” certainly plays out in the finance sector, but European countries with 30-hour working weeks, like Belgium and the Netherlands, have perfectly normal functioning economies.

The press generated after a 21-year-old Bank of America intern died of an epileptic seizure likely caused by exhaustion, caused many big banks to ease working conditions.

The London-based intern reportedly died after spending 72 non-stop hours at the office. His family and friends received emails from him at all hours of the night and were concerned about his habit of working late, returning home for only a couple of hours sleep, and then back to work.

Bank of America now tells its junior employees to take at least four weekend days off a month. Goldman Sachs makes sure their team takes at least one day off per week and JPMorgan mandates bankers take off one full weekend per month.

According to Johnson Associates Inc. the average financial analysts' salary fluctuates between $70,000 and $90,000 a year. With bonuses they averages shoot up to $140,000. However, bankers, both in Europe and the US, have faced wage cuts in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 crisis.