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Bank of America seeks to ensure work limits after intern's death

Reuters With CNBC
Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 | 2:42 PM ET

Bank of America/Merrill Lynch has detailed how it intends to improve working conditions for its junior bankers after one of its summer interns died.

In a memo sent to staff on Friday and seen by Reuters, Bank of America said an internal review had outlined measures to ensure such staff take days off and to improve support and supervision.

(Read more: 'Grueling' hours at banks in focus after intern death)

The review was announced after 21-year-old Moritz Erhardt died in August toward the end of a seven-week internship at the U.S. bank's investment division in London.

The new measures are designed to increase "the efficient use of our time and resources, support work-life balance, increase our junior banker staffing levels and enhance the overall work experience," the memo said.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Erhardt's death highlighted concerns about interns working excessive hours, and even through the night, after newspaper reports suggested that the German student had worked for 72 hours without sleep before he died.

An inquest into Erhardt's death found he died of natural causes.

Effective immediately, analysts and associates are recommended to take a minimum of four weekend days off per month. Any exceptions must be pre-approved by senior managers, the memo said.

(Read more: As bulls run, one Wall Street firm isn't so sure)

Bank intern's death probed
CNBC.com's Jeff Cox comments on a story he wrote about a Bank of America intern who died, reportedly after working extremely long hours.

The memo, from Christian Meissner, head of the bank's Global Corporate and Investment Banking (GCIB) unit, said it would make a current staffer position—responsible for how projects get allocated—into a full-time post in some regions. The staffer will closely monitor work volume, hours and assignments, making sure junior bankers work on a variety of projects and develop key skills.

The role of human resources and development officers will also be beefed up.

The new rules will also apply to those taking up summer internships at the bank.

(Read more: Bank of America's gender bias settlement approved)

"We are importantly committed to broader cultural change in terms of how we manage our time and how we best serve our clients," Meissner wrote in the memo.

CNBC obtained a copy of the memo and Bank of America confirmed it's authenticity. See complete text of the memo below:

Jan. 10, 2014
Improving the Banker Experience

A message from Christian Meissner, head of Global Corporate & Investment Banking

To: Global Corporate & Investment Banking employees

Following an extensive review of the work environment for junior bankers over the last several months, we are announcing a series of improvements designed to increase the efficient use of our time and resources, support work-life balance, increase our junior banker staffing levels and enhance the overall work experience. While a series of practical steps, as outlined below, are central to this initiative, we are importantly committed to broader cultural change in terms of how we manage our time and how we best serve our clients. As we work toward this goal , we are mindful of the demands that come with working in a competitive, client-centric business and remain focused on our principal mission to deliver a first-class work product to our clients.

These enhancements will begin rolling out this quarter.

For GCIB Analysts and Associates:

• The current GCIB Staffer role will transition into a full time position, in regions and groups where scale justifies, with increased responsibility and direct accountability to GCIB senior management. The new role will be called the GCIB Staffing and Resource Manager.

• GCIB Staffing and Resource Managers will closely monitor work volume, hours and assignments.

• They will make certain that junior bankers work on a wide variety of different assignments, where possible, and ensure that the development of core skills is an important factor in making staffing assignments.

• While we do not encourage weekend work, effective immediately, we recommend that Analysts and Associates take a minimum of four weekend days off per month. Exceptions to the weekend guideline must be pre-approved by either the regional head of GCIB for employees outside the U.S., or by one of the business heads within GCIB for employees within the U.S.

• As per our current vacation policy, Analysts and Associates are required to use allocated vacation time per year.

• Additional dedicated support including human resources program managers and development officers.

• We recognize that efficiency and work-life balance could be greatly enhanced through some changes in technology, graphics and production & printing services. We have initiated a full review of the work-flow in these areas and expect to announce improvements in the near future.

For GCIB Summer Analysts and Summer Associates:

• Subject to same guidelines for full time junior bankers.

• This includes increased oversight of work volume and assignments, with work hours to be closely monitored by the GCIB Staffing and Resource Manager who will be directly accountable to GCIB senior management.

• Greater dedicated support including additional human resources program managers and development officers.

Over the coming weeks, you will be hearing more about these changes from me and senior leadership across the firm. We are eager to get your feedback, both now and going forward. To that end, I will be asking a senior banker in each of our regions to be on point for capturing any comments or concerns so that we can monitor our progress and identify ways we can continue to improve. We are committed to making the work experience better for junior bankers and believe these enhancements will help ensure they have the resources and support needed to succeed.

Bank of America declined to comment.

By Reuters. CNBC contributed to this report.

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