Advice

‘My online vac scheme is shorter — can I still ask the firm to pay me in full?’

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I budgeted on receiving a three-week salary

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one wannabe lawyer has secured a summer vac scheme spot which is, thanks the pandemic, now shorter and online. But should she ask the firm to still pay her in full?

“I was due to start a three-week vacation scheme at a City law firm this summer and, due to COVID-19, it has been moved to a one-week virtual vacation scheme.

I had budgeted on receiving the £400 p/w salary (so £1,200) and now it’s been reduced to only £400. I’m starting third-year in September and was relying on the full sum to help with my uni living expenses. Now that the income has been reduced, I fall massively short of my budget which is hugely stressful.

Do you think it’s okay to ask the firm to stick to their original payment? I am lucky that in the holidays I live in London with my parents.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.

30 Comments

Spill the beans

The firm the article is talking about is DLA Piper

(23)(0)

Ryan

Given that it’s DLA Piper you’re unlucky to get the money back tbf

(14)(0)

Ryan

Unlikely*

(3)(1)

Emily

DLA said they would cover any travel expenses or accommodation that was prepaid for but that’s about it so I doubt that vac schemer will get the money back

(2)(0)

Jack

DLA Piper are doing a 1 week virtual vac scheme that they’re paying £400 for but they are contemplating a 1 week in office experience later on this year which they may or may not pay for. So it could potentially be £800 but you’ll have to wait and see

(1)(0)

Some Genius

Please. Don’t embarrass yourself with this dumb question. Let me explain. Do one week’s work, expect one week’s pay. I shouldn’t have to explain this to the next gen of lawyers. Sheesh. And count yourself lucky they aren’t paying you a discounted wage for doing it online. If you need more cash, spend the rest of the summer picking fruit or working in tesco.

(130)(7)

Jay

I guess they’re asking because other firms are still offering the full pay with only a week or a 4 day virtual vac scheme whereas DLA are doing 1 week virtual and 1 week in office later in the year but only offering a third of the original offer

(10)(6)

You're wrong

Actually, this isn’t correct. If the firm has entered into a contractual agreement to pay for the 3 weeks and this has changed due to circumstances outside of the vac schemer’s control, they should consider paying in full not just from a contractual but also from a moral standpoint. Many firms across London are paying vac schemers in full, even for virtual schemes.

(8)(7)

Olivia

DLA Piper have put vac schemers in a weird position where they have to sign a new contract agreeing to the lower terms of pay or withdraw from the vac scheme altogether.

So the previously contract has been rescinded which was a smart move to cover their own backs if anyone tried to say they previously contracted for £1200

(1)(4)

Anon

The money paid for vac schemes is designed to cover expenses of attending the scheme (and pay you for the small amount of work you might end up doing during it), which will now be very low. If you’ve budgeted to use that money elsewhere then I would say that is your lookout.

(52)(1)

Nope nope nope

I’m sorry you’re going through financial worries. But unfortunately, the financial reward is linked to the duration of the scheme. I would just try to use the opportunity to make the most of your scheme and secure yourself a training contract. Perhaps use the time available to gain part time work in retail? I’m afraid every body is in financial difficulties right now and it is a struggle for everyone across the board. I don’t think asking for full payment will reflect well, I would only try to highlight yourself in a positive light whilst on the scheme.

(36)(1)

Anon

I’m sorry you’re going through financial worries. But unfortunately, the financial reward is linked to the duration of the scheme. I would just try to use the opportunity to make the most of your scheme and secure yourself a training contract. Perhaps use the time available to gain part time work in retail? I’m afraid every body is in financial difficulties right now and it is a struggle for everyone across the board. I don’t think asking for full payment will reflect well, I would only try to highlight yourself in a positive light whilst on the scheme.

(0)(0)

Zach

Hahahahahaha that’s a good one

(12)(1)

Anon

If you value getting a TC above a few hundred quid I’d probably keep schtum

(62)(0)

Reality Check

If your money situation is that tight, you are presumably in receipt of a bursary to cover your living expenses at university.

If you aren’t in receipt of a bursary, you are presumably in a position to ask your parent(s) to cover £800 spread over an entire year of university, and/or cut back on certain outgoings (due to COVID-19 restrictions presumably you will be spending less on travel and social events).

If, despite the points above, your budgeting for your entire year at university has been irreparably ruined by a loss of £800 spread across the year, and you think you have to ask DLA for more money, you are probably a bit of an idiot, so good luck with the Vac Scheme.

(52)(4)

A. Grafter

I was p***ed off until I read your comment; thank you for sharing it.

(4)(2)

SA

Though this is frustrating. The firm has no obligation to pay you for three weeks when they are only employing you for one. Further, the purpose, and the appeal, of a vacation scheme is the possibility of getting a training contract, not the money.

(11)(1)

Anon

Yes! Sue them to the full extent of the law, the lowlives. They’ll probably make you managing partner and give you the choice of the partners’ daughters to take as a wife.

What a dumb question. You’re a vacs schemer. Do the scheme you’ve been given and be glad you still have the chance.

(19)(1)

Anon

I assume you are a fictional character made up for this sort of click bait story. That is because no one would be that effin stupid.

(11)(0)

Antoine

Surely it’s as simple as this:

(1) if payment was ‘per week’, i.e. “we’ll pay you £400 a week during the vacation placement which will last 3 weeks” – you have no chance, £400 is it.

(2) if payment was £1200 for the vacation scheme, which was initially anticipated to last 3 weeks, then you may have an argument. The length of the VS is arbitrary, you’re not helping the firm and they aren’t really getting any value from the work you do during your VS – so if they said it would be £1200 for the VS, you could argue this is still owed.

That said, my view is there’s absolutely no way they’ll pay the full £1200. Anyone disagree?

——

Separately – I find it all quite funny (not haha funny) because total VS expenditure per year is going to be really insignificant compared to other actual costs like staffing… using DLA piper as an example (given their huge intake and mid-league status).

By my rough calculations: 100 vacation scheme students costs them absolute max of £150k (100 x £1200 + 25% for outings, travel reimbursement). I’m happy that this figure is not too low given that DLA has 7 locations in the UK, mostly in the regions and these will be paid less. That’s roughly the salary of two NQs in London, three in the regions (e.g. nothing!).

It stands to reason that firms generally (Clearys, Bakers, SPB, IW etc.) are cutting the easiest costs, not the biggest ones. They are shafting you because they can and because it’s preferable to capping PEP, or as with somewhere like DWF because it’s the easiest way to appease shareholders by showing demonstrating some ‘belt-tightening’ measures.

(3)(3)

Folding Fish

If you ask they will say no and put a black mark against your name. You will not be offered a training contract irrespective of your performance on the scheme. Further, the graduate recruitment team will inform the entire UK graduate recruitment professional network of your complete inadequacy, and you will never be invited to an interview again. If this is an acceptable outcome then by all means.

(12)(1)

Silver circle ain’t so bad

Times like this really show what the firms think of graduates. It’s not that much for them to pay students who may have made arrangements, such as not getting a summer job, because they were anticipating being paid from vac schemes.

A few good eggs like Travers (and I believe Macfarlanes) are still paying vac schemers for the full duration of the original scheme, despite them only actually doing a much smaller scheme online.

(9)(1)

Darryl

Depending on how you look you might be able to make more than £400 via webcam.

(9)(2)

Finton

Doing what?

(0)(0)

Craig

OnlyFans

(2)(1)

450 p/h DLA associate

Sue us kiddo! Love to send you to the dark ages.

(7)(2)

K&E NQ

450 p/h – cute

(1)(1)

Latham Associate

My secretary’s charge out is more than that

(1)(1)

Bob

Ask away. Let me know how it goes

(5)(0)

Comments are closed.

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