Camerons shrinks payoffs by 20% as 80 face the axe

CMS CAMERON McKenna slashed its redundancy package just months ahead of a major job cull that is likely to lead to the loss of 80 jobs

CMS CAMERON McKenna slashed its redundancy package just months ahead of a major job cull that is likely to lead to the loss of 80 jobs, The Lawyer can reveal.
Camerons reviewed the compensation paid to axed staff in December last year. It launched a redundancy consultation earlier this month.

The firm had offered two weeks’ wages for every year of employment as well as three months’ pay. After surveying rates offered by other firms, this was reduced to one week for every year at the firm plus three months’ pay.

The changes knock £5,000 off the sum available to an associate with two years’ post-qualification experience (PQE) who trained at the firm.
In 2008, that employee would have received £25,384, compared with £20,308 this year.

A Camerons spokesman denied that the firm had been preparing to launch the consultation when the review was carried out, saying: “We consulted the staff forum at the time to explain the reasons. There were no plans for redundancies.”

Meanwhile, the firm has provoked anger by unveiling a new business suite in the midst of the redundancy consultation.

The £350,000 facility on the seventh floor is intended for informal meetings and has been designed with CMS alliance branding.

A source close to the firm criticised the timing of the revamp, adding: “Most firms are dispensing with such nonsense but we’re going backwards.”

The firm said the area needed an overhaul and that payment was being spread over the remaining six years of the lease.

Camerons unveiled a raft of measures to cut its wage bill this month, including the loss of 60 support staff and 20 associates as well as a reduced working and paid sabbatical programme.

A spokesman maintained that the redundancy payoff was “competitive”, adding: “We’re paying an enhanced redundancy package. For most people this equates to either one or one-and-a-half week’s pay for each year
of service.”

Although some firms, including DLA Piper and Eversheds, have paid the statutory minimum to departing staff, most have offered significant payoffs.
Employees at Allen & Overy receive a minimum of three-and-half weeks’ pay for every year of service plus two months’ wages, while at Linklaters the package is three months’ notice pay and three weeks for every year spent at the firm.