China State-owned Banks

China State-owned Banks Divide Employees To Brace For COVID Surge

CHINA – To prepare for a potential spike in cases after the authorities eased COVID-related measures, Chinese government-owned banks and regulators are splitting staff: some work in the office without any outside contact even after work, while others work from home exclusively, reported Reuters on Monday (12 December, SGT).

For instance, sources revealed that the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) implemented a closed-loop system, where staff sleep, live, and work isolated.

In particular, the top securities regulator only permits about 2 personnel from each department to report to work at its HQ, and the commission also instructed some of them to prepare for a prolonged stay at their workspace. Conversely, other employees were told to telecommute.

Similarly, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) had told its Beijing-based personnel this week to adopt split shift working arrangements starting next week.

As for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), it instructed its employees to divide into 2 groups, with each working in the office alternately per week. Among the country’s large four state-owned banks, Bank of China has implemented a similar working arrangement, but it split its staff into 3 groups and the bank has not yet decided when to commence the rotations.

Sources also shared that other big government-owned banks have introduced similar arrangements: dividing up personnel into rotating shifts, while maintaining a maximum office capacity of 10 to 20 percent for those working at their HQ in the capital.

“Fear among staff of getting COVID appears to be incredibly high in Beijing at present, as one can assume the virus will move through the city very quickly,” noted China-Britain Business Council’s Chief Representative, Tom Simpson.

“There is a new fear among people from getting COVID, and that is putting people off from going into the office, and companies are generally not forcing people to go in, either.”

Meanwhile, a representative from the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China disclosed that its members are putting up plans to ensure business continuity even if COVID cases increase.

“This is not an easy task at the moment, as there is still significant discrepancy between the pandemic-related guidelines of different cities and regions… Given we are now 3 years into the pandemic, most companies have taken steps to facilitate their staff to work remotely,” added the unnamed representative.

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