Law firm says employees can work from home full-time – but only if they take a 20% pay cut

shomos uddin | Moment | Getty Images

A U.K. law firm has decided to offer its employees the option of working from home full-time, but on the condition that they take a 20% pay cut.

The London-headquartered law firm Stephenson Harwood has also offered its employees the option of a hybrid model, working up to two days remotely for the same salary.

A spokesperson for Stephenson Harwood said this was "consistent with the approach taken by many City law firms."

"Like them, we see value in being in the office together regularly, while also being able to offer our people flexibility," they said.

Both the hybrid and full-time remote work options came into effect this month.

Stephenson Harwood had looked to employ people for a small number of roles living outside of London during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The spokesperson said this enabled the firm to attract candidates that otherwise wouldn't have been available to them. However, they pointed out that the job packages, including the salaries, were different from those offered to its employees who regularly work from its London office.

Stephenson Harwood has since decided to open this option of fully remote work to its existing employees.

According to the Stephenson Harwood website, employees joining the firm on its training contract in London are paid £43,000 ($53,835) for their first year, rising to £47,000 in the second year. The firm currently offers a salary of £75,000 for a newly qualified solicitor.

There continues to be a debate on the merits of each working model in the wake of the pandemic, though the consensus seems to land on the idea that a hybrid working week offers the right balance for many.

Data from the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics, released in June last year, showed that of the adults working from home at the time, 85% wanted to use a hybrid approach in the future.

However, the U.K. has been grappling with a cost of living crisis in recent months, due to surging inflation, driven partly by Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Rising costs include train fares, which went up by 3.8% in March, said to be the biggest jump in nine years. However, the jump in rail fares was based on an inflationary measure from last year.

ONS data showed that the price of food and non-alcoholic drinks went up 5.9% in March on the previous year, the biggest jump since 2011.

So, saving on the costs of both commuting and eating out while working in the office could become an even bigger consideration for workers, as soaring energy bills put more pressure on finances.

Check out: Job openings and number of people quitting hit record highs—it’s ‘the pit of despair for employers’