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SEC Will Watch Wall Street From Home at Least Through Mid-July

Ben Bain

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission employees will have to stay away from the agency’s offices for at least two more months as Wall Street’s main regulator continues conducting much of its work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton told employees in an email late last week that mandatory telework for the vast majority of the agency’s 4,000-plus employees will remain in effect until at least July 15. Clayton said the announcement, a copy of which was viewed by Bloomberg, was intended to provide some near-term certainty for staff.

“We do not have a crystal ball,” said Clayton, who has served in the SEC’s top job since 2017. “To provide as much information as I reasonably can, without promising something I may not be able to deliver, I expect any change in operational posture after July 15 will be gradual and driven by the needs of the agency, the circumstance of the individual and, most importantly, health and safety guidelines.”

The comments come as the federal government and businesses across the nation grapple with how and when to return to offices. The SEC was one of the first U.S. agencies to tell employees to stay home during the pandemic, encouraging telework for personnel at its Washington headquarters on March 9, amid concern that one of its workers might have contracted the coronavirus.

Since then, the SEC has held remote meetings to vote on regulatory and enforcement matters, as well as to hear from industry advisory groups on dealing with the crisis. The agency has also granted regulatory relief for financial firms trying to operate remotely and in extreme market volatility.

An SEC spokeswoman declined to comment.

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