Doesn’t apply to trainees
Eversheds Sutherland has become the latest City law firm to roll out a series of belt-tightening measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a new scheme that sees its lawyers’ hours and pay vary according to workflow.
The firm today announced the launch of a new ‘Flexing the Working Week’ scheme which allows it to temporarily reduce the working hours for certain teams as and when they become less busy. Lawyers’ hours can drop down to a maximum of 80% of their “usual pattern”, with an associated reduction in pay for any period “on flex” to 80%.
It says the scheme, which runs for six months from 1 June, allows teams to be moved on and off flex to “help us match capacity with work volumes”. It does not apply to trainees, apprentices or colleagues whose base salary is under a certain threshold. Other employee benefits remain unaffected.
The scheme is being introduced across the firm’s UK and international offices with “certain details changed to reflect market norms and regulations”, it said.
In addition, Eversheds confirmed equity partner remuneration has been reduced by an average of 25%, in response to “partners’ desire to lead the firm’s response and be the first to feel the impact of any financial measures needed to protect the business and the jobs of our people”.
Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows profit per equity partner (PEP) at the firm sits at very healthy £886,000 — or £664,500 post-COVID cut.
Lee Ranson, CEO of Eversheds, said: “I am really proud of how the business and all our people have responded to these unprecedented times. Notwithstanding the challenges, client feedback shows that we have been able to continue to deliver the highest standard of client service.”
“From the very start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have said that we want to protect not only the strength of the business but also the jobs of our people. To support this, we now want to introduce our Flexing the Working Week Scheme. We have consulted widely across the firm on its terms to make sure we have a scheme which is right for us as a business and for our people.”
A number of City law firms have taken similar steps to reduce costs in response to outbreak.
Staff at Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) recently voted in favour of temporary measures which will allow some of them to drop down to a four-day working week and take a 20% pay cut for one year. Dentons‘ UK and Middle East (UKME) arm has also called on staff to agree to “flexible reduced work patterns” for six months from 1 June.
Shearman & Sterling, meanwhile, launched a voluntary leave programme that allows its lawyers to take a maximum of six months off work at a third of their annual salary. Fellow US player Reed Smith is offering employees the option to take up to three months unpaid leave.