A majority of UK lawyers said they would not take a pay cut in return for full-time remote work, according to a survey by Law.com International, although nearly 50% of the same poll believe that a pay cut for remote staff is a valid decision. Politics.
In a survey of more than 50 lawyers, when asked if they would opt for a pay cut alongside working from home full-time if offered by their firm, 72% of respondents said no. 15% said they would take the pay cut while 13% were undecided.
47% of respondents to the same survey said they believe law firm staff and salaried employees should be paid less if they work remotely full-time.
A partner at a mid-to-large law firm pointed to what he perceives as hypocrisies between strong law firm finances and pay cuts. They said: “Law firms cannot on the one hand brag about their income/profits and on the other hand cut salaries just because of remote work…if that remote work remains without effect on the quality and quantity of work performed”.
“A pay cut is frustrating and can cause good employees to leave,” they added.
Location also plays a role in influencing whether or not partners would be happy to accept the affair, according to the survey. Another associate at a medium-sized company said that because he lived close to the office, he preferred to go to the base instead of taking the pay cut.
However, another partner said a 20-30 per cent pay cut would still be “a fantastic deal so you don’t have to travel”.
Meanwhile, non-partners have mixed opinions, especially as the market for hiring junior talent continues to work in their favor. One associate, who said he was undecided whether or not he would take the pay cut, said he would be likely to leave his company if such a policy was introduced.
Discrimination and retention issues
Such a policy is likely to trigger many other issues, with 25% of respondents saying the biggest impact will be company exits. A Manchester-based partner said if his company offered reduced wages to remote workers, there was a risk of pushing more talent to London.
While COVID-19 remote work was first hailed as a “game changer” for women in law, many believe a pay cut for remote workers would be a step backwards for gender parity. the sexes. 19% of survey respondents said another major impact could be a growing gender pay gap due to the likelihood of women favoring politics more than men.
In the survey, a female partner at a medium to large law firm joked: “I expect my male colleagues to be thrilled that I’m working from home – it gives them a chance to get out of pennies. my shadow !”
They continued that the policy discriminates against women who “take on the lion’s share of childcare duties and are for the first time in history able to satisfactorily combine work and motherhood. “.
“The genie cannot be put back in the bottle,” the partner added. “Law firms must stop living in the past.”
The ongoing debate stems from Stephenson Harwood’s decision to cut wages by 20% for his employees who choose to work remotely full-time – a move that has drawn national attention and criticism online.
Another respondent said he was much more financially productive when working from home and would not opt for the pay cut, saying:
“The company is doing significantly better financially thanks to my working from home and doesn’t need my presenteeism – there’s no reason for me to take a pay cut.”
The discussion around remote worker pay is the latest challenge for companies as they continue to grapple with the issues raised by the shift to remote work, including issues of presenteeism and retention.
While initial hurdles included whether or not to introduce a formal work-from-home policy, more recent concerns include the potential for working from home to erode workplace culture.