March 20, 2020 / 4:20 PM / 20 days ago

Bank of America adds 1,700 support staff in March

FILE PHOTO: A Bank of America logo is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp’s consumer bank has hired 1,700 people in critical support roles so far this month, a spokesman said on Friday, as the industry faces a surge in customer service demand due to coronavirus concerns.

The second largest U.S. bank by assets had roughly 208,000 employees at year end, according to filings.

While most of corporate America has been forced to dramatically scale back operations due to the quickly spreading coronavirus outbreak, banks have been under pressure to keep critical infrastructure like ATMs, bank branches and trading floors open for business and to offer relief for customers adversely affected by the pandemic.

Bank of America announced several relief measures for small businesses and consumers, including deferred payments on credit cards, auto loans and mortgages as well as refunds for checking account fees. Requests for refunds and deferrals are handled on a case-by-case basis, the bank said in a statement late Thursday.

“We’re going to continue to provide convenient access to the important services they count on, and the additional assistance and support they need during this difficult period,” consumer bank head Dean Athanasia said in a statement.Banks have been balancing the need to maintain customer-facing operations with protecting employees and curbing the spread of the pandemic. Earlier this week JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest U.S. bank by assets, said it would temporarily shut 20% of its branch network in light of the pandemic and pay a $1,000 bonus to frontline employees working with customers during the health crisis. All of Bank of America’s 4,300 branches across remained open as of Friday, a spokesperson said. On Tuesday the bank announced a $100 million donation for coronavirus relief efforts to address medical response capacity, food insecurity, and education in light of school closures.

Reporting by Imani Moise; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang

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