Slaughters makes ‘reduced hours for reduced pay’ permanent option for lawyers 

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By Thomas Connelly on


Follows succesful pilot

Magic Circle law firm Slaughter and May has confirmed a scheme whereby lawyers have the option to work shorter hours for less money will become a permanent arrangement from next month.

The option, dubbed ‘Switch On/Off’, enables eligible associates to reduce to either a 0.9 or 0.8 full-time equivalent, with pay and holiday entitlement pro-rated accordingly. The firm has been trailing the system since early 2021.

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Lawyers who take up the option will continue to work five days as week with non-working days taken in up to two pre-agreed blocks over a 12-month period. Associates remain on the scheme for a year.

Slaughter and May chief people officer, Jonathan Clarke commented:

“Following a successful trial period, we are delighted to introduce the Job Design Scheme as a permanent offering for our associates. The new working arrangement provides our lawyers with a different approach, which enables them to develop their careers and deliver value for our clients, whilst simultaneously having the time to pursue other interests and maintain a greater work-life balance.”

The move comes just a month after the firm increased salaries for newly qualified associates, from £115,000 to £125,000.



Wow! Genius! Work less but get paid less? Where do these absolute brain boxes come from? Truly revolutionary stuff here!


I thought it was very obvious, but then not everyone reading this is that smart I guess!


Did they pay McKinsey or another consulting company millions of pounds to come up with this revolutionary concept?

Kirkland 5PQE PINO incoming

We’re lawyers. We don’t need consultants with less brainpower than us to tell us what to do.

This is clean law firm politics. Hats off to SM because this is rlly a step in the right direction


You clearly don’t understand how law firm politics works.

Skeptical Associate

This is nice in theory but we all know that sooner or later a client will demand a call on the off day, or a partner will require something urgent during those periods, and associates are not in a position to say no, meaning they get paid less for the same work.

Former SM

I think though the point is that when you are on you are in five days a week, and when you are off you take off whole blocks of time: as in you won’t be in the office for a whole month or two at a time. So the risk of working on your off day is, I suspect, much reduced compared to a regular 4 days a week sort of arrangements.

Perhaps an insider could enlighten us.

SM insider

Was on the scheme last year – and can confirm I didn’t work a single day of my additional c. 4 weeks of holiday, precisely because they are taken in one or two large blocks. SM is usually pretty good (at least in my experience) at respecting holidays – but I guess this may be impacted to an extent by your seniority (note: last year, most people on the scheme came from junior ranks) and/or your usual approach to working while you’re meant to be off.

The real question is how much extra work befalls those who aren’t on the scheme when those who participate are away – but this is something that the firm seems to be trying to mitigate through additional hiring and better work allocation management.

Also – it does seem to me pretty revolutionary to be given the opportunity to get significant more holiday for the equivalent paycut; I don’t think similar arrangements are on offer at many/most other law firms?

Interested party

Super interesting. Presumably you can choose any month(s)? Or is it the case that you will likely get approval by choosing the slower months (Summer/Xmas)?

SM insider

You can go away at any point in principle, but as the main criterion to get partner approval seems to be the availability of sufficient cover at any given time, picking times where other associates are less likely to be off (e.g. Sep-Oct or May-Jun, rather than Christmas or August) seems to improve one’s chances.

Current sm

This is correct


That’s the story of every person doing similar arrangements in any other industry. Many mothers have fallen under the false promise of work-life balance…reduced hours, reduced salary and after few months, same workload…


Isn’t this just buying holiday? Hasn’t that been a standard part of the package for any white collar job for at least the last twenty years?

MC (non-slaughters)

It’s the quantity here I think. Normally (at least at my firm) – you can buy a max of 5 days (so a week) – this seems closer to the month – 2 month mark.


Work less for less pay? Wow big brain!


I’ll take things that sound great on paper but won’t practically work for $500 please Bob


Well done Slaughters, you’ve invented Part Time work‽ Trebles all round!


Lool as opposed to just moving to another with a better work/life balance

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