International law firm Charles Russell Speechlys (CRS) has been accused of threatening staff with pay cuts if they do not return to the office, despite official government guidance urging those who can to work from home.
Staff were allegedly told coronavirus fears are not a reason to work from home, and if they wanted to stay away from the office they would have to use their annual leave to take days off, or work from home on 75 per cent pay, legal gossip site Roll on Friday reported.
CRS is headquartered in London, which is currently in Tier 3 – the strictest tier in the government’s coronavirus tier system. Advice from the government has consistently been that employees should work from home if they can, even in areas less affected by Covid-19.
In the last week coronavirus cases have skyrocketed, with vast areas of South East and Eastern England moved into Tier 3. There are growing fears England will face another national lockdown in the new year, following a relaxation in restrictions over the Christmas period.
The law firm reportedly told some staff their roles could not be performed from home, to which a source told Roll on Friday: “which is a total lie given that we have been doing this since March.”
A spokesperson for CRS did not confirm or deny the accusation that staff had been threatened with a pay cut if they chose to continue to work from home.
CRS said: “In order to continue operating for our clients and to be able to open our Covid-secure offices for certain business or wellbeing needs, we have identified some essential roles that are required to be in the office.
“We have consulted with individuals to assess their circumstances, minimise frequency in the office where it is preferred and put in place rotas and revised working practices to accommodate this. Nobody with medical or shielding needs is being asked to come into the office.”
The spokesperson continued: “Throughout the pandemic we have listened closely to staff feedback and have generally had very high levels of satisfaction with the firm’s response. Like many firms we have had to adapt and make changes to working practices which we will continue to review as the situation evolves.”