UniCredit moves to curb branch access, urges staff to work remotely

MILAN, Oct 29 (Reuters) - UniCredit is demanding clients book an appointment to access its branches, a spokesman for Italy’s second-biggest bank said on Thursday, as the country battles daily new records in COVID-19 infections.

UniCredit, which previously had only been recommending clients make an appointment, joins rivals such as Intesa Sanpaolo, Monte dei Paschi and Mediobanca’s CheBanca! retail arm in curbing client access to protect staff as a second coronavirus wave engulfs Italy.

In a message published on Wednesday on its OneUniCredit website dedicated to employees, the bank also invited all staff at its central offices to consider remote-working as the best option.

The spokesman said more than 70% of the bank’s employees were in a position to work remotely.

After becoming one of the first Italian banks to embrace remote working en masse during the healthcare emergency, UniCredit had encouraged employees to gradually return to its main offices once the first wave of contagion subsided, filling up to a quarter of their capacity.

At the height of the pandemic UniCredit had less than 30% of its branches operating and they were open every other day in the morning only.

Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro and Valentina Za; Editing by Kirsten Donovan