When a 17-hour workday is just fine with you

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Yet again facing pressure from the public and competing industries, banks are looking to do more to take care of their young talent. The latest change comes from Goldman Sachs, which just announced new rules around work hours for interns.

In a memo, Goldman told its 2,900 new interns that their workday is limited to 17 hours. Or, to put it in a nicer-sounding way, the bank said that interns are to leave the office before midnight everyday and can’t come back until 7 a.m. at the earliest. They are also banned from the office on Saturdays. Wall Street interns, particularly those working on investment banking desks, frequently work deep into the night and sometimes into the next morning. That will no longer be happening, at least at Goldman.

The announcement comes on the heels of two recent suicides by junior bankers, both of whom told family about their brutal schedules in the preceding days, and a joke email sent to Barclays interns that said, among other things, that “we expect you to be the last ones to leave every night…no matter what.” The employee who sent the email was reportedly fired and had another job offer rescinded from the Carlyle Group.

While the rules currently apply only to Goldman interns, we know from past experience that when one firm makes work-life changes, others tend to follow rather quickly. Bank of America told junior bankers to take a minimum of four weekend days off each month in 2013 following the death of an intern who was pulling all-nighters. Within months, every bank on Wall Street had a similar policy.

The key with these rules, as with the weekend initiatives for analysts, is to see if people actually follow them and if they are enforced. If one person stays past midnight, others will surely join them.

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