UK law firm’s ‘Switch On/Switch Off’ program allows ‘chunk of time off’ for reduced pay
U.K. law firm Slaughter and May’s “Switch On/Switch Off” program for associates is different than reduced-hours programs offered by U.S. firms. (Image from Shutterstock)
U.K. law firm Slaughter and May’s “Switch On/Switch Off” program for associates is different than reduced-hours programs offered by U.S. firms.
Slaughter and May’s program was formalized in December. Law.com described it this way: “Associates can book a chunk of time off that represents either 10% or 20% of their annual billable hour requirement. In return for being allowed to log off for one or two months, the associate receives a 1:1 reduction in compensation.”
Slaughter and May associates do have to get approval from their practice group leaders. Associates in the program work five days per week, with the option to take one or two blocks of leave for less pay, Law.com reports in a separate story.
The program was previously tried on a trial basis, according to Legal Cheek.
Many U.S. firms offer associates the option to work fewer hours for less pay. But often, the programs are intended to be used by attorneys with caregiving responsibilities, and they typically aren’t available to first-year lawyers, according to Law.com. Nor do they allow a large block of time off.
Slaughter and May associate Michael Craig decided to be a “guinea pig” and try the program, so that he would know whether to recommend it, he told Law.com. He was previously co-chair of the firm’s mental health network.
Craig took his block of time off, along with accrued extra leave, in one period lasting two and a half months.
“I got to go to Japan with my father, on a trip with my wife to Borneo, as well as a family holiday to Malta,” Craig told Law.com. “But also, it was great to just have time to go around London during the day. You could spend your whole life working and living in London and only see about 5%, so it was great in that respect. Looking back at the year, I’ve absolutely no regrets. It was such a fantastic thing to do.”