EY offers 25% bonus for UK consulting staff to take time off

London: EY is set to pay some of its UK consultants to take time away from the business, the latest sign of pressure on a strained market for advisory services.

The Big Four firm has launched a “time out summer programme” for financial services consulting staff, according to an internal memo seen by Financial News.

Employees who are not deployed on an assignment or without an assignment from March to August 2024 can leave their role for up to 12 weeks.

The time out will be unpaid, but staff will receive a bonus of 25% of their notional salary on their return.

The scheme is the latest in a line of money-saving initiatives by leading consultancy firms, which have faced the challenge of highly paid staff sitting idle as key clients like banks and private equity houses suffer from a deal slump and face their own cost pressures.

Practices such as restructuring have held up, but other workstreams have flatlined, raising tough decisions over whether headcount should be trimmed in a bid to keep partner profits strong.

Consulting is bearing the brunt of Deloitte’s 800 planned job cuts. One hundred UK deal advisers are being slashed by KPMG, while PwC is getting rid of 600 roles. Many global consultancies are also pushing back graduate start dates to save immediate costs, and US sector leaders including McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group are set to rack up thousands of redundancies.

EY’s memo says the time out programme creates opportunities “to achieve balance in your work and personal lives” and “constructively use your time either travelling, spending time with family or just time out for yourself.”

To be allowed time off, staff must be graded at least “performing as expected”. They will receive their usual benefits for the time away, which must be a minimum of four weeks.

EY can reject requests to join the scheme at its discretion, and requires staff to submit plans to use around 40% of their holiday by the end of June and 70% by the end of August, because the time out supplements existing annual leave.

The short-term pause suggests EY is betting on a deals rebound later in 2024. Bankers are holding out high hopes that UK success stories including Starling, Monzo and Oaknorth could pick London to float and rekindle sluggish capital markets as the government and private sector overhaul listings rules and prepare to launch a new intermittent trading venue to breath life back into the City.

“EY’s UK financial services consulting business is operating an ‘Employee TimeOut’ initiative, offering its people four to twelve weeks of unpaid leave over the summer months,” an EY spokesperson confirmed.