Salaried employees have no "right" to a 40-hour work week. Wage earners can get overtime, salaried workers get a warm glass of shut the hell up. They can be melted down into pure profit centers.
So when Wall Street banks start mandating 36 hours of "weekend" for their employees, you wonder if bank CEOs are just trying to throw Amnesty International off their scent.
Citigroup just became the latest global bank to institute a "Protected Weekend" protcol. Citigroup personell are expected to be out of the office from Friday at 10:00 p.m. through Sunday at 10:00 a.m. That's 36 entire hours of "weekend" every week. They've also been told that once a month, they should take a full weekend. They're not supposed to work remotely during this time — though they are still expected to check their email (here's the full memo to Citigroup employees). Citigroup is following the lead of J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse who have also instituted some form of mandatory weekend policy.
Is this just another "perk" given to fat-cat bankers? What can you do to also acquire the right to one free weekend per month? CEOs at global financial institutions didn't get there by letting an abundance of compassion cloud their business judgement. But when people die, that's bad for business.
That appears to be what happened to Bank of America's Moritz Erhardt. He died in London last August, of an epileptic seizure... after allegedly pulling three straight all-nighters. Erhardt was just an intern, and the banks say that these guidelines (Bank of America instituted its weekend policy in January) are there to protect the young and the striving from themselves. How nice of them.
Of course, the guidelines are also there to cover the bank's ass. Even if it's unlikely anybody could sue a bank for "working their son to death," there's still bad public perception when people die on your job.
And let's remember, these are just guidelines, they don't have the force or effect of law behind them. If JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon calls you into the office at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, GO. Give your kid the Metrocard and a panic button and get to the office. There's not an employee in any one of these banks who is going to tell their superior "I'm sorry, Mr. Alpha and Omega, but the new polices here suggest I shouldn't even be taking your call."
Protip: when somebody offers you a "mandatory weekend," they're not doing you a favor. Spend the 36 hours evaluating your life, and see if you can come up with something more humane to do with your time.