Barclays' bosses kept their freedom but lost their innocence.
Photograph by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg—Getty Images
By Stephen Gandel
September 11, 2015

The office is officially off limits on Saturdays for young bankers at Barclays.

The British bank this week decided to up its efforts to improve work life for its most junior investment banking employees. A memo went out to Barclays employees detailing the policy this week. Barclays (BCS) said its investment banking analysts and associates, the two most junior roles in that division, are no longer allowed to work on Saturdays. The policy only applies to bankers in New York and other offices in the Americas. The bank said there were would be some exceptions to the policy.

 

Along with Saturdays, the bank also said that its junior bankers would also be required to take at least two five-day vacations, so-called “protected leave,” sometime during the year in which they are barred from checking e-mail or logging onto a work computer.

Junior bankers at Barclays had been previously encouraged not to work more than 12 days in a row. Barclays instituted that policy in early 2014 at the same time a number of others banks were making similar moves, a response to stories of long hours and widespread unhappiness among entry-level Wall Streeters. Goldman Sachs encourages its junior bankers to take the weekend off. Citigroup and Credit Suisse also try to enforce Saturdays off. Bank of America tells its bankers they should take at least four days off a week, preferably on the weekends. Barclays said it modified its early policy after feedback from bankers.

It’s unclear how much the new days off have improved overall working conditions for Wall Street entrants. Some junior bankers say they get the same amount of work but just have to complete it in fewer hours.

“The well-being of our employees is a priority for the firm, and these initiatives have been in place for some time,” said a Barclay’s spokesperson in a statement to Fortune. “We believe the announced enhancements are an important part of ensuring a better work-life balance for our junior bankers, and ultimately helping them work more efficiently and productively for our clients.”

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