As a global business, Ashurst like many others is affected by the economic disruption being caused by Covid-19. The 80 per cent work pattern will help manage capacity levels of the business in coming months.
Law firms are taking a major financial hit and cutting employee salaries as the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 deepens. International law firm Ashurst has announced staff would reduce their pay and hours by 20 per cent from 1 May, with the exception of employees working in busy parts of the business and those subject to awards under the National Employment Standards.
The multinational flagged that partner pay would be cut by 20 per cent for the next six months, and salary reviews for this financial year would be deferred until November.
The announcement comes as law and professional services firms across Australia slash jobs to protect their businesses against the economic fallout of COVID-19. Clayton Utz has instituted a hiring freeze and said it would consider reducing employee hours if economic conditions worsen.
At the same time, 13 of Australia’s largest firms, including Ashurst and Clayton Utz, have jointly applied to the Fair Work Commission seeking changes to the Legal Services Award that would enable them to reduce the hours of employees covered by the award during the COVID-19 crisis. The award does not cover qualified lawyers but does include clerks, graduates undertaking practical legal training, paralegals and administrative staff.
Global Managing Partner of Ashurst Paul Jenkins said these were difficult decisions, but they were necessary to avoid redundancies.
“As a global business, Ashurst like many others is affected by the economic disruption being caused by COVID-19,” Jenkins said. “The 80 per cent work pattern will help manage capacity levels of the business in coming months.
“We do not underestimate the impact they will have on our people. They are necessary to protect jobs and avoid the redundancy situations that other professional services firms have needed to consider.”
Bonuses will be paid in two instalments, with the first half a bonus to be paid in July and the second in November.
The firm, which is currently operating virtually, said while some sectors were taking a hit, several sectors in Asia were picking up, particularly in greater China, as the region starts recovering from the economic effects of the virus.
“Across our practice areas, we’re also seeing demand in equity capital markets, infrastructure work, financial services, dispute resolution, restructuring and employment,” Jenkins said.
“However, it is also apparent that some markets face a long road to recovery.”
The global firm employs more than 1,600 partners and lawyers across its 28 offices globally. In Australia, Ashurst has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra.
Ashurst chairman Ben Tidswellsaid the firm has “pulled together in an impressive way”.
“While this is not an easy time, I take a great deal of confidence from the way the whole firm is presenting a united front, as we continue to meet the needs of our clients,” Tidswell said.