Staff at a top London law firm have been told they can work from home permanently – but they will have to take a 20% pay cut.
Managing partners at Stephenson Harwood are offering lawyers and other staff the option as City firms try to move beyond solely office-based working in a post-pandemic cultural shift to flexible and remote models.
Junior lawyers at the company have starting salaries of £90,000, meaning anyone taking up the officer would lose about £18,000.
Stephenson Harwood, one of the top 50 highest earning legal firms in the UK and with its headquarters in London, employs more than 1,100 people and has offices in Paris, Greece, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.
A spokesman for the firm told the Times that partners would not be eligible to take advantage of the new working policy. Full equity partners receive an average of £685,000 annually.
The new salary sacrifice for full remote working policy is being introduced after the company’s experience of recruiting lawyers during the coronavirus pandemic who were not based in London, where living costs tend to be higher.
However, the company said it expected only a few staff to take up the full-time work from home option because “for the vast majority of our people, our hybrid working policy works well”.
Staff already have the option of working remotely for two days a week.
“Like so many firms, we see value in being in the office together regularly, while also being able to offer our people flexibility,” the spokesman said.
While many firms are looking at ways to entice workers thriving on flexible and remote working to return to the office, Airbnb has moved in the other direction, announcing that its staff can live and work anywhere they want.
On Thursday, Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief executive, tweeted that employees could work from anywhere in the country they live without having to take a pay cut.
In addition, he said staff have the flexibility to “to live and work in 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location”, as part of a plan that will also involve “most” staff connecting in person for about a week every three months.
Last month a pilot programme involving more than 3,000 workers at 60 companies across Britain taking part in a four-day working week trial was announced.
The scheme, thought to be the biggest trial anywhere in the world, will run initially from June to December.
It comes as the push for companies to adopt a shorter working week – crucially with no loss of pay while aiming for higher productivity – gains momentum as a way of improving working conditions.