Banks cut hours for junior staff

Tim Wallace
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A NUMBER of City banks are examining plans to cut the hours worked by interns and junior staff in their investment banking units, City A.M understands, following criticism some are working dangerously hard.

After months of intense scrutiny of the industry’s practices, Barclays is thought to be considering increasing the number of junior staff it hires.

The move would spread the workload and cut hours, as part of a range of measures to ensure that junior staff and interns do not burn out.

The bank has long had graduate development teams looking after staff for their first year, as well as a buddy scheme to help new graduates get help from outside their immediate teams. “The well-being of all of our employees is a top priority,” said a Barclays spokesman.

Meanwhile Deutsche Bank is also believed to be considering new guidelines for interns’ working hours, again to make sure they have some time outside of the office. Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

The latest disclosures come after Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Friday told interns to take at least four weekend days off each month. It issued new guidelines after a review of work practices, following the death of an intern last summer.

Moritz Erhardt died in August towards the end of a summer internship in the investment bank, and is thought to have worked all night for several days. The 21-year old student was later found to have died of natural causes, but his death sparked a fierce debate around the treatment of young staff.

Goldman Sachs has told its junior staff to take more time off, insisting that they are away from the office between 9pm on Friday and 9am on Sunday each weekend, while JP Morgan is increasing the number of staff and interns it hires to spread the workload more widely. The bank has also reportedly told junior staff they must take one weekend per month where they don’t work at all.

Banking internships typically come with salaries of £40,000 or more on a pro-rata basis and are a key route to a career in investment banking.

The positions are very desirable, leading to fierce competition between applicants. Long hours are common with interns sometimes working all night to get ahead of colleagues and impress bosses and recruiters.