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Law firm says staff can work from home but will have to take a 20% pay cut

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

According to legal sector news website RollOnFriday, which first reported the new policy, management at law firm Stephenson Harwood have decided to let staff work from home full-time but those who opt to go fully remote will have their pay cut by 20%. The option is included in the firm’s new hybrid and remote working policy, which came into force at the start of May. Stephenson Harwood has also offered its employees the option of a hybrid model, working up to two days remotely for the same salary.

Companies who are considering following in their footsteps will need to carefully consider their policies and whether they are leaving themselves open to potential discrimination claims. For example, it could be indirectly discriminatory if homeworking is being used by a woman because they have caring responsibilities or by a disabled person and they are being paid a lower wage.

Stephenson Harwood’s pay reduction policy for full time WFH comes after the firm recruited lawyers during the pandemic who were not based in London, where living costs tend to be higher.

The spokesman said that in theory a senior associate solicitor could choose to WFH full time even if they lived in London, but it is likely they would be ruled out for promotion to become a partner.

Many companies are facing a battle to tempt staff back into the office, with some offering inducements such as free lunches and cinema evenings.

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