Goldman Sachs Interns No Longer Allowed To Work Past Midnight

Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs has rolled out a new policy disallowing its summer interns from working past midnight. (As the Guardian notes, this means interns can only work 17 hours a day.)

Previously, Goldman had already required that analysts not work on Saturdays.

Earlier this year, an overworked 22-year-old “first-year analyst” at Goldman Sachs was found dead in the parking lot next to his apartment, in an apparent suicide, the New York Times reports. (That same article notes that financial services employees are “1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than the national average”; this data comes directly from the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance.)

In autumn 2013, 21-year-old Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt was found dead in his apartment, in the shower, having suffered a seizure after pulling 72 hours — 72 consecutive hours — at the office. And while there’s sadly no definitive way to prove that Erhardt’s fatal seizure was triggered by workplace exhaustion, it’s a pretty good bet.
From a feature-length Guardian article about Erhardt:

The hours were brutal. Working through the night was almost a rite of passage.

In August, Moritz was nearing the end of his seven-week placement. He had shown himself to be so capable that the bank was preparing to offer him a full-time job as a £45,000 a year analyst after his graduation.

But Moritz was unaware of this. Keen to impress to the last, he worked three nights in a row. Over a 72-hour period, he got a taxi back from the office to his flat in Bethnal Green, east London, at around 5am each morning. He would then shower briefly before returning to his desk. This exhausting ritual is known in banking circles as the “magic roundabout” — so-called because the taxi driver will sometimes wait outside while an intern washes, puts on a fresh shirt and re-emerges blinking in the dawn light.

Erhardt’s death reignited the conversation about investment banking’s culture of overwork. (Bank of America Merrill Lynch immediately went into overdrive, reviewing its workplace policies about labor-hours.)

And this conversation is ongoing. For instance, John LeFevre — best known, probably, for @GSElevator, a Twitter account that purports to document conversations overheard in the Goldman Sachs elevators — is author of the upcoming book “Straight to Hell,” which promises to be a scathing indictment of Wall Street culture. The book comes out on July 14.

Japan introduced a new law to prevent karoshi — death from overwork — which went into effect in November 2014. “The law makes it the duty of the government to take steps to eliminate overwork-induced deaths or suicides of employed workers, but it does not impose new work-hour regulations,” the Japan Times notes.

[The Guardian]
[CBS Moneywatch]