| HONG KONG, April 16
HONG KONG, April 16 Ernst & Young [ERNY.UL], one
of the world's four biggest auditing firms, has issued a notice
to its China employees to encourage them to take low-pay leave to
save operating costs amid the economic downturn.
The firm has launched a human resources initiative to
encourage its staff in China to take 40 days of low-pay leave
between July 2009 and June 2010, according to an emailed
statement from Ernst & Young in response to Reuters inquiry.
Those who agree to participate in the programme can get 20
percent of their usual salary while retaining all of the benefits
of a full-time employee, the firm said in the statement.
The 40-day low-pay leave plan will apply to Ernst & Young
employees in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China where the firm
has 8,500 employees in total.
"These programmes are being implemented with the objectives
of reducing costs for the organisation during the economic
downturn while keeping its people together in order to meet the
demands of clients when the economy rebounds," the statement
The firm also encouraged staff who were ready to take
professional exams to take 20 days off before they entered the
The worsening global financial crisis has cost tens of
thousands of banking jobs.
Swiss bank UBS (UBS.N) UBSN.VX announced an 8,700-person
layoff plan worldwide on Wednesday, while Japan's largest
brokerage, Nomura Holdings Inc (8604.T), cut another 50
investment banking jobs in Asia on the same day.
While banks suffer directly from the financial crisis,
consultancy, auditing and law firms are also being hit by the
crisis as they normally work closely with investment banks to
support them in closing deals.
Many law firms have also encouraged staff to take unpaid
leave or to take leave on reduced pay terms.
In January, Ernst & Young said it had asked its China staff
to take one month unpaid leave on a voluntary basis to help
reduce operational costs.
More than 90 percent of its China staff joined the one-month
unpaid leave plan, said a Hong Kong-based Ernrst & Young
spokeswoman in an emailed statement in response to a Reuters
Ernst & Young's major rivals include PricewaterhouseCoopers
[PWC.UL], Deloitte & Touche [DLTE.UL] and KPMG [KPMG.UL].
The four auditing firms used to be big hirers of fresh
graduates in China, in particular for basic auditing jobs to help
clients with stock listings or to acquire assets. Some of them
had suspended hiring this year, industry sources said.