EY Signage

Big Four accounting firm EY has followed last month’s hiring freeze and reduced partner drawdowns with a cut to staff pay and hours in its Oceania offices in order to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus on the firm, but EY’s legal arm is less affected than other parts of the firm.

EY said different business units are reducing hours and pay in accordance with the reduction in their workload. It did not confirm the size of the cuts, however the Australian Financial Review reported some parts of the business were cutting hours and pay by as much as 20%.

Even so, EY Law remained busy, according to a spokesperson, suggesting cuts to that part of the firm were smaller.

“Our efforts to protect jobs, including redeploying our people to higher-demand areas and providing options for people to temporarily scale back hours [from May 1 to July 30], have begun and will continue,” EY Oceania Managing Partner and CEO Tony Johnson said in a statement relating to the overall cuts.

“Any measures will be applied across the business, at all levels, based on demand, and as such, they will impact different areas of the business to varying degrees and at different times.”

The measures are designed to avoid the need for layoffs, Johnson said.

“No decisions have been made to make any redundancies at this point in time, however, as we have consistently and transparently communicated to our people, where there is significant and prolonged downturn in demand, and redeployment is not possible, redundancy will be reluctantly applied as a last resort,” he said.

EY is the latest professional services firm to cut back pay and working hours in Australia as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19, following KPMG and PwC.