Companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co. are stepping up to compensate employees ensnared by Hong Kong’s strict quarantine regime as businesses in the city struggle to retain and recruit staff almost two years into the pandemic.
As most of the rest of the world is opening up, including rival financial hubs such as Singapore, London and New York, Hong Kong is steadfast in its zero-Covid
approach, which includes mandating a hotel quarantine of as many as three weeks for residents returning to the city and visitors.
A recent survey found almost half of major international banks and asset managers are contemplating moving employees or functions out of the city.
A stay at Hong Kong’s designated quarantine hotel can cost between HK$500 to HK$3,630 per night for a non-suite room.
The U.S. bank JPMorgan offered to reimburse Hong Kong employees up to US$5,000 to compensate for their quarantine stay, in a plan that will be in effect until November next year.
All Hong Kong-based employees who are executive directors and below may claim the amount for a single quarantine stay for personal trips to visit immediate family members, which includes spouses, domestic partners, children, parents and grandparents.
JPMorgan has 4,000 employees in city.
As for Morgan Stanley, the New York-based investment bank offered employees as much as HK$40,000 to cover quarantine costs.
The one-time reimbursement will be available to all Hong Kong permanent employees when they return from a personal trip to visit immediate family members and in effect until November next year.
Black Sheep Restaurants, a Hong-Kong based restaurant group will also be spending at least US$650,000 to allow more than 250 staff to fly home and see their families, according to Christopher Mark, a co-founder of the group.
The company will pay for flights, hotels and Covid
tests for employees and a daily dinner from one of its 32 restaurants. In return, staff taking advantage of the offer are asked to commit to working in the group for at least one year when they return.