More than 80% of KPMG’s
UK partners have applied to work a four day week or take a sabbatical after the
Big Four firm announced a scheme last week aimed at avoiding redundancies.
The voluntary scheme, announced last week, is one of the first of its kind by
a big accounting firm.
The figure means around 400 out of 550 UK partners have applied. KPMG’s
11,000 staff have until next month to apply but the firm said not everyone will
be allowed to work a four-day week with the fifth day unpaid or take a
sabbatical for up to 12 weeks, partially paid.
It was following a meeting in December KPMG decided to offer staff the new
working options. Eight other countries within the KPMG group are thought to be
considering similar schemes.
Rachel Campbell, the firm’s head of people, said: ‘Like many other firms as
part of our forward planning we said: “What would the situation look like if the
market worsens?” We simply didn’t want to be in the position where we would be
contemplating large scale redundancies.’
KPMG’s announcement comes amid a wave of job cuts in the profession. Firms
including Deloitte, Grant Thornton and PKF have announced plans to cut hundreds
of jobs in expectation of slower revenue growth this year.
Thousands of redundancies in financial services has cut the amount of
advisory work on offer, while merger and acquisition activity has also slowed
Gerwyn Davies, public affairs manager at the Chartered Institute of Personnel
and Development, said KPMG’s scheme was a good idea and should be relatively
easy to introduce and manage.
‘One of the beauties of this particular scheme is its voluntary nature,’ he
said. ‘It serves the employer, employee and manager’s interests and it’s similar
in nature to existing flexible working structures.’
Other firms, including Ernst & Young and PwC, said they already offered a
limited number of staff the option of working a shorter working week or
sabbaticals. But they added that they had no plans to offer a scheme on the
scale of KPMG in an effort to avoid job cuts.
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