Mizuho Financial Group plans to allow staff to work three or four days a week on reduced pay, as the Japanese bank assesses what post-pandemic working life will look like.
Japan’s third-largest lender is in talks with labour unions over the shorter working week that could be introduced from December, said a spokesperson for the bank, confirming comments made by chief executive officer Tatsufumi Sakai at an event on October 6.
The bank may introduce the programme at six of its businesses, including its commercial bank, trust bank and brokerage, affecting about 45,000 employees. Staff who choose to work three days a week will receive 60% of their salary and those who choose four days, 80%, the spokesperson said.
Mizuho joins local and global rivals in questioning how staff and businesses will operate once the coronavirus pandemic subsides. The bank plans to trim office space in New York and London in anticipation that some staff will keep working from home even when the crisis is over. Nomura Holdings, Deutsche Bank and Fifth Third Bancorp also see opportunities to cut costly real estate by keeping a portion of staff at home.
The new measures aim to help staff decide on their working style and Mizuho expects the reduced hours will be used for employees who want to dedicate more time for childcare, nursing care or education, she said.
The bank has been trying to reduce costs by streamlining operations, cutting jobs and introducing digital technology. The lender is targeting a 19,000 reduction in staff by the end of March 2027 through natural attrition, according to a 10-year plan from 2017.
Mizuho has postponed plans to return workers to buildings in New York’s midtown Manhattan district and the City of London, amid lingering concerns over Covid-19.
In Japan, where there are a relatively low number of infections, only about 20% of employees at the bank’s Tokyo headquarters are currently working from home.