The big four firm’s 8,000-strong workforce have now been briefed on a move to a four-day working week by 1 May, with a corresponding reduction in pay.
The change in working conditions follows a “significant change” to client demand, with some undisclosed PwC teams moving to a three-day working week.
Likewise, the firm’s 700 partners have seen their income draws reduced by 20 per cent since 1 March, and have now been told to expect their incomes to be reduced by 30 to 40 per cent from the new financial year.
All variable income, such as pay raises and bonuses for both partners and staff, has been deferred, while all 1 July partner admissions will be held off.
Staff will be allowed to use their annual leave to bring their remuneration up to 100 per cent for a period of time.
Incoming PwC chief executive Tom Seymour said the firm’s measures were meant to prevent COVID-19-related redundancies.
“We said a few weeks ago that we had no plans or desire to undertake redundancies as a result of COVID-19 and we remain committed to that goal,” Mr Seymour said.
“These are very challenging times for all Australian businesses, and PwC Australia is not immune from the economic disruption being caused by this global health crisis.
“While these decisions are difficult and we don’t underestimate the impact they will have on our people, they are in line with our primary goal of avoiding COVID-19 redundancies.
“While we cannot underestimate the significant impact this health crisis is having on the economy, it will pass, and when it does, we need our skilled workforce ready to go and able to support our clients as the economy powers back up.”
Mr Seymour did not specify how long the new working arrangements would last, but he said the goal was to return to usual conditions “as soon as possible”.
While the change follows a drop in client demand, Mr Seymour said certain teams would continue to run at full capacity, including its financial audit division.
“We have seen significant changes in the mix of client work during the past few weeks,” Mr Seymour said.
“Many clients have put projects on hold and we have seen a number of transactions stall given the volatility in domestic and global markets.
“However, clients are also seeking out services in a number of other areas including protecting the welfare and wellbeing of their workforce, supply chain management, operational resilience and business continuity planning.”
PwC’s move comes after fellow big four firm KPMG made 200 redundancies and mandated a 20 per cent pay cut across the firm, in a move that chief executive Gary Wingrove said “simply cannot be avoided”.
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.