(updates December 20 story with comment from company)
By Imani Moise
Dec 20 (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co. has been hiring overseas after pledging to eliminate thousands of jobs, according to a Department of Labor investigation.
The department determined that American employees who have been laid off in Wells Fargo’s customer account management unit after Sept. 28 will be eligible for government aid under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The program provides weekly income and training to help workers displaced by global trade find new jobs.
The bank “has shifted to a foreign country the supply of a service like or directly competitive with the service supplied by the workers,” the TAA determination said.
The document, available online, did not specify which countries jobs were being moved to or how many people were hired overseas. The department’s findings were earlier reported by The Charlotte Observer.
Ninety percent of Wells Fargo's workforce is U.S.-based, and the company currently has 17,000 open positions domestically, spokesman Kurt Schroeder said in a statement. However, he said, employees abroad are needed in order to meet the demands of customers who need round-the-clock support.
"Wells Fargo has a long history and strong commitment to a work force that is predominantly U.S.-based," he said.
Wells Fargo, the largest bank employer in the United States with roughly 262,000 workers, said on Sept. 20 it would reduce its total headcount by up to 26,0000. Last month the bank handed out roughly 1,000 60-day notices to employees across the United States, and over the summer it laid off 600 employees in its mortgage division.
The reductions are intended to help the bank reach its goal of cutting costs by $4 billion by 2020 as it tries to increase profit and recover from a series of sales-practice scandals while operating under the Federal Reserve’s asset cap.
Aside from headcount cuts, Wells Fargo has pledged to lower costs and become more efficient by reducing its branch count by about 800 by 2020 and by selling noncore businesses. (Reporting by Imani Moise; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)