A Google image search for "frozen salary" comes up trumps
Slaughter and May will continue its salary freeze for staff, but has reinstated partner distributions.
In an internal email seen by RollOnFriday, Executive Partner Paul Stacey told staff that the partnership board had decided "not to move associates through the salary scales this year nor to award salary increases across the rest of the firm." He said the situation would be reviewed again early next year.
"Regrettably, neither the pandemic nor the fallout from it are yet over and in deciding on salaries and bonus we have had to balance the hard work you have put in and the need to continue to be cautious in these inherently uncertain markets and times," said Stacey in the email.
In May, as was the case with many other City firms, Slaughter and May reduced salaries of its NQs from £92,000 to £87,000, due to the pandemic. But while the pay freeze continues at Slaughter and May, other firms have started to thaw their salary restrictions (at least for lawyers) and upped pay. One source at a rival firm speculated that "Slaughter and May associates are now paid less than Macfarlanes as the pay cap continues." O Tempora! O Mores!
However, sponsoring a Slaughter and May lawyer this Christmas won't be necessary, as Paul Stacey's email announced that annual discretionary bonuses would be "2 per cent above the level of last year's bonus to recognise the significant contribution across the firm during the year."
Slaughter and May takes a semi-socialist approach to bonuses, awarding everyone in a band the same amount instead of tying them to hours worked by an individual or veins popped in service to the firm. One of the draws of the firm for many associates is that it doesn't enforce a minimum billable hours policy.
At the lowest rung, NQ to 0.5 PQE lawyers will receive a discretionary bonus of 10.7% of their salary, up from 8.7% last year. And at the top band, 4.5 PQE lawyers and higher, will take home a lump sum of 16.6% of their salary, up from 14.6% last year.
Slaughter and May has also reinstated the partner distributions that it suspended in April this year; although the move hasn't gone down well with all staff. One source complained the firm was freezing pay for the troops whilst seemingly letting the officers coin it, saying that the partners had "back-paid themselves dividends" over the eight month period that the distributions had been paused at the start of lockdown.
Other staff were more relaxed about the partner distributions. One insider (not a partner) noted that the firm's partners had only received minimum drawings from April to November, and commended them for building up as much cash/working capital as possible during that period.
Whether your firm is handing out unexpected bonuses like a magical elf, or acting like a miserly Ebenezer this Christmas, let us know.