Monday 16 March 2020 3:38 pm

Coronavirus: Law and accountancy firms move to remote working in face of covid-19 pandemic

A string of big legal and accountancy firms have triggered emergency remote working plans this week, sending thousands of workers home as the coronavirus crisis rages.

Big Four audit firm Deloitte is asking all its UK staff to work from home tomorrow, while KPMG is allowing staff to work from home if they choose. 

Magic Circle law firms Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May are all encouraging their staff to work at home from this week.

A spokesperson for Deloitte said: “As the covid-19 situation progresses, and as part of our ongoing business continuity planning, we’ve asked all UK employees to work remotely on Tuesday 17 March.”

The firm said that from Wednesday staff would be able to work from home if they chose to.

Earlier this month, a staff member in the firm’s London office tested positive for coronavirus following a trip to Asia.

KPMG tested out its remote working capabilities on Friday, with 11,000 staff around the UK logging onto its systems remotely.

The firm told staff that from today they are able to work from home if they wish, as the firm waits for further guidance from the government.

EY said it was “using remote working as needed” and said “we are monitoring this situation closely and updating guidance as developments warrant”.

A spokesperson for Allen & Overy said the firm was “strongly encouraging all partners and staff in its London office to take advantage of its existing flexible working arrangements to work from home for the next few weeks in response to the spread of covid-19.”

Clifford Chance said all its staff globally were now moving to remote working.

A spokesperson said: “From today, in addition to our teams in APAC that have been working remotely for some time, our US, European (including UK) and Middle East offices will also be working remotely.”

Global legal giant Baker McKenzie told staff not to come to work in London today and is moving to a full office closure from Wednesday.

A spokesperson said: “In light of the rapidly changing landscape in the UK regarding covid-19, our London and Belfast offices will move to full remote working from Wednesday 16 March.

“Our offices will be closed for all but essential services such as IT, couriers, post and printing so as to support the delivery of all client services, including closings and court hearings.”

Baker McKenzie sent staff home late last month over fears of a coronavirus outbreak, but the office later reopened.