Shoosmiths moots pay cuts for all staff

Claire Rowe

Claire Rowe

The pay cuts are being accompanied by the introduction of a four-day week in the corporate and real estate departments, together with additional redundancies, according to legal website RollOnFriday.

The flexible working scheme is offered either as a nine-day fortnight or four-day week and the option to reduce working hours for a 5 per cent pay enhancement. These teams are also offering staff three month sabbaticals at 25% of salary.

As part of the redundancy programme 14 staff could lose their jobs – including 4 fee earners and 10 support staff.

The voluntary pay cut is applicable to staff earning over £25,000 per year, in return for two extra days holiday, effective 1 October 2009.

Additional measures that are being consulted on include a reduction in employer pension contributions of between 1 per cent and 2 per cent depending on scheme membership, a pay freeze for the 2009-10 financial year and the introduction of voluntary flexible working.

Shoosmiths’ chief executive Claire Rowe said: “Recession has changed the legal landscape for the foreseeable future and there’s likely to be a continuous downward pressure on fees.

“These cost reduction measures will enable us to respond with a lower cost base post-recession. It’s part of our ethos to pull together and share the pain as well as the rewards and so
we hope that these measures will be widely accepted to keep future redundancies to an absolute minimum.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that this current restructuring will not affect our service delivery to clients.”

The firm will not be paying a Christmas bonus this year.

Shoosmiths has already carried out redundancies, with 101 members of staff losing their jobs over the course of the last financial year.

This follows a challenging year for the firm in which average profits per equity partner (PEP) dropped by 54 per cent to £150,000, while turnover dropped by 4 per cent to £99m (6 July 2009).

The firm also became embroiled in controversy when it became the first firm to offer trainees the option to withdraw from their training contracts without offering any compensation and also withdrew training contracts.