Firm cuts remote workers’ pay by 20%

London law firm Stephenson Harwood has offered staff the option to work from home permanently – but remote workers will see their pay cut by 20%.

According to the BBC, the firm recruited workers from outside London during the pandemic who worked remotely but were paid less. The firm is now offering this remote working option to all its staff, though will reduce their pay by 20% to bring them in line with other staff.

The option is available to all staff with the exception of partners, though the firm said they do not expect uptake to be high, adding that the chance of a newly qualified lawyer taking £72,000 to work remotely – as opposed to £90,000 in London – were “very slim”, not least because their role requires experience of the office environment.

The firm also offers a hybrid working option where staff must be in the office 60% of the time (three days per week). The firm said:

“Like so many firms, we see value in being in the office together regularly, while also being able to offer our people flexibility.

For the vast majority of our people – and the candidates we speak to – our hybrid working policy works well.”

The home working debate is expected to continue in the aftermath of the pandemic – a recent study published by Stanford University suggests that 10% of workers will continue to work remotely.

Many firms, such as Stephenson Harwood, see the value in employees being in the office, as well as feeling workers can be less productive when working from home with less supervision and more distractions.

Others see the value in employees saving money and time by not commuting, as well as the firm saving office space and expenses. Some have also suggested working from home increases productivity and efficiency: one study found that productivity was 7% higher relative to expectations and efficiency was 4% higher relative to working on business premises.

It also found that employees desire to work from home for around two days per week, as well as valuing hybrid working 2-3 days per week as much as a 5% pay rise. It also noted that 15% of global employees would quit or start looking for a WFH job if their employer announced that all employees must return to the worksite 5+ days a week.

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