Big Four firm Deloitte has called on its London audit staff to work at least 50 hours a week during ‘busy periods’, despite research showing that long working hours can be damaging.
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In an email sent by Deloitte partner Panos Kakoullis, one of the heads of audit in London, staff were told they should work 50 hours a week in busy periods. The average maximum working week, as stated by the EU working time directive, is currently 48 hours a week, although UK companies have an opt-out clause to enable employees to work longer.
Kakoullis defended the request as being part of standard work practice. ‘It is purely the case that during busy periods people work harder than during the non-busy periods,’ he said. ‘It is not a target or a requirement.’
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows that over a quarter of those working longer than 48 hours a week have suffered negative impacts on health.
In addition, over half reported that performance dipped or mistakes were made due to longer hours.
Mike Emmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said that ‘managers should not be able to force their workforces to work long hours’.
A Deloitte statement said: ‘During the busy financial reporting season longer hours are often worked and resources are managed to deal with increased demands.’
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