Work from home permanently but earn 20% less, Stephenson Harwood tells lawyers

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By Aishah Hussain on


New agile option

Stephenson Harwood will reduce the salaries of staff who want to work from home permanently by 20%, as part of a new agile working policy due to come in force next month.

The policy specifies that lawyers and staff must work from the office for 60% of the time, or three days a week, but it also provides an option for employees to WFH full-time, at a price.

Under the deal, UK-based homeworkers will still be expected to come into the office at least one day each month, with the firm covering travel or hotel expenses. They will, however, see their salaries drop by 20% compared to their commuting counterparts.

“Like so many firms, we see value in being in the office together regularly, while also being able to offer our people flexibility,” a firm spokesperson said. “For the vast majority of our people — and the candidates we speak to — our hybrid working policy works well”, by providing them with the option to work remotely for up to two days a week.

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Legal Cheek understands that only a small number of staff have opted to work fully remotely, and none of these are trainee or junior lawyers. The policy applies on a case by case basis, with the hybrid model better suiting junior lawyers who require training and supervision and the remote model lending itself to professional support lawyers, senior associates or roles in business services.

Remote roles “may be a modified version or be slightly different in terms of the responsibilities of a hybrid role”, the policy specifies, but it is unclear whether this will translate to a reduction in hours or billing targets, for example.

“For resourcing reasons during the pandemic, we recruited lawyers who weren’t based in London, but lived elsewhere in the UK,” the spokesperson continued. “The packages we offered were different from what we offer our people in London. They’re fully remote and are not expected to regularly attend the office.”

“Recently we’ve opened the option to existing members of staff, so anyone interested in taking advantage of the additional flexibility offered by the package can have a conversation about whether it can work for their role.”

Back in November Stephenson Harwood raised newly qualified (NQ) solicitor salaries by 20% to £90,000, with associates across different levels of the firm receiving pay increases ranging from 8-17%. It also upped its target hours from 1,550 to 1,650 at the time.

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