"Because of the extraordinary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to pause, for the time being, the vast majority of redundancies associated with this programme where notices have not already been issued," HSBC CEO Noel Quinn said.
"We will also pause external recruitment, other than for a small number of front-line and business critical roles and those already with written offers."
Quinn, who was confirmed in the top role earlier this month, had previously planned to cut about 35,000 jobs as part of an overhaul of Europe's largest bank by assets.
The memo was earlier reported on by IFR and the Financial Times.
(Reporting by Sinead Cruise, Writing by Iain Withers; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)