London firm tells lawyers they can work from home for 20% pay cut

updated on 06 May 2022

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Staff at Stephenson Harwood LLP can work from home permanently in return for a 20% pay cut, as part of the firm’s new remote working policy which is set to be enforced this month.

The policy states that all staff must work from the office at least three days a week, unless they are happy to have their pay cut by 20%. Those who choose to have their pay cut in return for permanent home working will be required to come into the office one day each month, according to Legal Cheek. Any travel or hotel costs incurred by those travelling into the City will be covered by the firm.

During the pandemic, the firm recruited lawyers based outside of London “for resourcing reasons”. These lawyers were hired on lower salaries because they are not required to commute to London. A spokesperson for the firm told CITY A.M. that 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. If they are needed in the office, we cover their travel and accommodation expenses.”

This remote working option is now being offered to the rest of the firm’s staff, alongside the lower pay. It is unclear yet how many staff will take the firm up on the offer to work remotely full-time. A spokesperson for the firm said that the likelihood of a newly qualified (NQ) lawyer at the firm, whose starting salary is £90,000, opting for a pay cut to £72,000 to work from home is “very slim”. NQs value the office environment and the learning via osmosis that going into the office enables.