UOB to freeze wages, slow hiring amid pandemic fallout
United Overseas Bank is freezing the wages of its staff and limiting hiring amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to media queries, UOB's head of group human resources Dean Tong said: "As we focus on protecting the livelihoods of our people, we are keeping salaries at their current levels for now and will revise our stance as the external environment improves."
Mr Tong told The Straits Times that the bank will take a "disciplined and selective approach to any new headcount increases", with new appointments to be "approved at the most senior levels".
He stressed that UOB will continue investing in and hiring for roles essential to its strategic priorities.
Mr Tong said these strategic roles include positions in areas such as technology and data analytics, as well as commercial and corporate banking.
Other banks indicated that they may similarly take further action to keep a lid on costs.
A DBS Bank spokesman said the bank is facing significant income and credit cost headwinds as the external environment continues to be challenging.
"We have been prudent on expenses, (and this) has involved prioritising investments as well as cutting back on variable staff compensation. These measures may not be sufficient. We will calibrate any further responses in the next few months," he told ST.
OCBC Bank's head of human resource planning Jacinta Low said: "As the financial year has not come to an end, we will review the compensation and rewards at a later date."
UOB has a workforce of more than 26,000 employees across the group. It operates in 19 markets, including China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia.
In an internal memo, the bank told senior staff that it expects the situation to worsen before improving when the Government cuts some of its support, reported Bloomberg yesterday.
Earlier this year, local banks DBS, OCBC and UOB pledged not to cut jobs.
DBS committed to hiring around 2,000 people here this year in existing and new roles, while OCBC said it would recruit 3,000 people in full-time positions, traineeships and internships.
Although it is slowing hiring, UOB told ST yesterday it is offering 320 traineeships in over 10 business and support units across the bank for its operational needs and digitalisation and innovation efforts.