Work from home, but if you do, we’ll cut your pay by 20%, law firm tells staff


A global law firm has offered its employees the option to work from home permanently — but only if they take a 20% pay cut.

Many companies are struggling to encourage their workforce back into the office as COVID restrictions are increasingly being eased in cities all over the world.

A recent survey found that 76% of Apple employees were unhappy with the tech giant’s return-to-office policy, which requires corporate workers to be in the office once a week.

Meanwhile, only around half of Goldman Sachs employees showed up to work at the company’s Manhattan headquarters when the office reopened in March, despite CEO David Solomon’s famous belief that remote work is “an aberration that we’re going to correct as quickly as possible.”  

Stephenson Harwood, a British law firm with offices in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, told Fortune that during the pandemic, it hired people for roles in London who were based outside of the capital on smaller salaries.

In the U.K., it is common for employees to have “London weighting” incorporated into their salaries to compensate for the increased costs associated with living and working in the capital.

Stephenson Harwood told Fortune that the option to work under a fully remote arrangement — where workers are never required to be in the office but earn less — was recently offered to all of its existing employees.

This means a newly qualified lawyer, for example, with a starting salary of £90,000 ($112,000), would earn £72,000 ($90,000) if they chose to work from home full time.

A spokesperson for the company said it had a hybrid working policy in place for workers who chose not to take up the offer, under which employees had the option to work remotely for up to two days a week without their salaries being affected.

Stephenson Harwood believed this policy “strikes the right balance,” the spokesperson said, adding that it was consistent with the policies of many law firms in London.  

“We see value in being in the office together regularly, while also being able to offer our people flexibility,” they added.

While a number of big-name companies, including Airbnb, Twitter and Spotify, will allow their employees to work from home permanently for no reduction in salary, many managers have been critical of remote work.

A recent survey found that 77% of managers were willing to fire employees or cut their pay if they refused to return to the office.

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