UK firms outstrip US counterparts for flexible working and benefits

The generous salaries offered by US firms have tempted many lawyers to join them, but they are worse off than their counterparts at UK firms when it comes to benefits such as flexible working, maternity pay and holiday entitlement.

UK firms are three times as likely to have partners on flexible working arrangements than US firms, according to a benefit survey of UK firms and US law firms with UK offices from Portus Consulting.

Of the UK firms questioned, 73 per cent had some partners working flexible hours, compared with just 23 per cent at US firms.

Lawyers at UK outfits can also look forward to better maternity and paternity pay. Of the UK firms, 75 per cent offer female partners maternity benefits above the statutory maternity pay (SMP), falling to 62 per cent at US firms. However, below partner level potential mothers at US practices are more likely to receive maternity pay above and beyond the SMP compared with their UK equivalents.

Fathers who are partners fare much worse. All the UK firms in the survey offered at least basic paternity benefit, but 12 per cent of US firms provide no paternity pay at all; 71 per cent of UK firms go beyond the state requirement compared with 41 per cent of the US firms questioned.

Unsurprisingly you will get less holiday at a US firm too. Of the US firms surveyed, 29 per cent offer less than 30 days’ holiday and only 35 per cent gave partners more than 30 days, whereas 89 per cent of UK firms allow partners 30 days’ holiday or more.

Pensions contributions as a percentage of salary reveal a more mixed picture. The maximum employer contribution
to pensions at the majority of firms is 5 per cent, with 44 per cent of UK practices and 41 per cent of US firms paying this into lawyers’ pensions. Six per cent of UK firms and 29 per cent of US outfits pay 6 per cent, while just 6 per cent of UK firms and no US firms pay a maximum employer contribution of 10 per cent.

Not everything in the survey deals with such serious matters. Lawyers at UK firms are likely to be fitter than their US counterparts, with 11 per cent of eco-friendly UK firms offering tax-deductible incentives to purchase bicycles. No US firms offer the same incentive.
% of lawyers using flexible working