Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is asking its staff to agree to a 20% cut of weekly working hours and delaying profit distribution to partners in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The firm announced today (20 April) it is asking its employees to sign up to a temporary change of their contract for one year from 20 April which will make them eligible to move to 80% of their working hours and base salary.
The scheme is similar to the one the firm adopted in 2009-10 in response to the global financial crisis and will apply to its offices in Europe, Middle East and Asia.
Participation to the scheme is voluntary, with NRF aiming to have 75% of its staff signed up to make it economically viable. If the target is not reached the firm will reassess its position.
The salary reduction will be tapered, with lower earning employees seeing their wages cut by 5%. The firm is also deferring the partner profit distributions and bonuses as well as salary rises and bonus payments for staff.
EMEA managing partner Peter Scott said in a statement: ‘In this current crisis, we believe it is prudent to take pre-emptive action to protect our people and our business. The key for us is to ensure that we can respond rapidly to any future changes in levels and types of work at an unprecedented time for the global economy. We know this is a challenging time for all of our people and we want to safeguard jobs as far as possible.’
He added that because it was ‘likely that not all parts of the business will be adversely affected by the current situation’, it was possible that employees who have signed up to the scheme in some parts of the business will not be required to reduce their working hours.
Scott concluded: ‘Flex worked exceptionally well for us a decade ago, which is why we are proposing a similar flexible working strategy aimed at keeping our workforce intact. We believe that if we keep the firm together we will maintain the strength of the business to take immediate advantage of the upturn when it arrives and provide our clients with continuity of service.’