European banks scramble to match US banks' Hong Kong perks
It's proving irresistible. - European banks are following in the footsteps of US rivals by covering the costs of staff who have to quarantine, so they can travel aboard to meet families.
UBS is paying up to HKD2k a day to cover quarantine expenses up to a total value of HKD42,000 a year. The payment is available to all full-time UBS employees based in Hong Kong up to executive director level to reunite with immediate family outside HK.
UBS has also relaxed its rules to allow Hong Kong staff to work remotely from Australia, the UK, South Korea and Taiwan until March 31, 2022.
It's not the only bank to do so. Rabobank is also understood to be offering staff up to HKD40,000 towards the cost of quarantine and is allowing them to travel as many times as they like overseas.
The move by UBS and Rabobank is likely to be followed by other Europeans as they fall into line with earlier moves by US banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan.
The payments are recognition of the fact that employees have been unable to travel to reunite with their families for almost two years, while Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine requirement has made it difficult for banks employees to find space at government-approved hotels.
Meanwhile, banks are hoping they will be able to travel to see clients in mainland China soon, with authorities considering allowing quarantine travel in time for Christmas, provided the Omicron variant does not derail the plan.
On December 10, the Hong Kong government will allow people to download a health code that is compatible with those of Macau and the mainland, so that they can cross the border with a full location record. “Business travellers will be prioritised and there’ll probably be some quarantine, providing the Omicron variant doesn’t delay things further,” said one headhunter in Beijing.
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