Gaza-Israel war drives employers to shutter stores, offices

Employers with staff based in Israel have asked employees there to take precautions in the wake of attacks last weekend by militants affiliated with Palestinian Islamic political party Hamas.

JPMorgan Chase has asked some 200 staff in Israel to work from home, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to HR Dive. Similarly, Goldman Sachs has directed employees in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv to work from home, the company told HR Dive in an email.

Other international firms affected by the war include Morgan Stanley, which also directed staff to work from home, Reuters reported. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Retailer H&M confirmed in an email to HR Dive that the company’s local franchise partner has temporarily, and until further notice, closed all stores in Israel. “The safety and wellbeing of our colleagues is of course the main priority for us and we maintain close contact with all colleagues,” H&M said.

South Korea-based media organization Yonhap News Agency reported Monday that manufacturer LG Electronics has recalled South Korean employees at the company’s Tel Aviv office as well as their families after initially ordering employees to work from home on Saturday. LG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The war has disrupted international travel on several fronts. U.S. airlines including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have suspended direct flights to Tel Aviv, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, cruise ship operator Royal Caribbean International canceled a sailing this week from Haifa, Israel, the company announced.

Efforts to preserve security for those caught in the middle of the war mirror what global firms experienced during the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war. In one example, Visa scrambled to relocate some 50 employees in Ukraine to surrounding countries last year as that war unfolded.

HR departments have several roles to play in the face of war. Beyond ensuring employee safety, employers can provide resources ranging from relocation assistance to flexible time off to mental health access. They also can help employees deal with trauma related to war and organize participation in any relevant fundraising, volunteer or charitable efforts.

Update: This story has been updated with comment from H&M.