Grant Thornton Canada Is Totally Giving Its Hourly Employees the Shaft

Hey, accounting firm CEOs, listen up. A global pandemic is not the time to be screwing your employees—salaried and hourly—out of pay and/or their PTO time.

Grant Thornton in the U.S. is seemingly taking care of all of its employees as the firm has transitioned to all remote work until at least the end of March because of COVID-19.

In his message to GTers, U.S. CEO Brad Preber said:

Hourly employees who may not have the ability to work while they are home will continue to be paid during this time.

That’s absolutely the right thing to do. But not all Grant Thornton International member firms are looking out for their hourly employees during this chaotic time. Here’s an email we got the other day:

Grant Thornton Canada is not following suit.

In short, Kevin Ladner sent out a firm wide email stating you can work from home under specific circumstances and if you are hourly, you must take unpaid or vacation days.

That’s totally brutal, if true. And guess what? It is true. Here’s part of the email that Ladner, GT Canada CEO and executive partner, sent to all employees on March 13 about the firm’s COVID-19 response:

Working from home

If you are required to work from home as a result of our new travel policies and related quarantine requirements, you will continue to receive your regular compensation and benefits, as long as you are able to work remotely and perform the essential responsibilities of your role.

If you occupy a role in the firm where it is not practical for you to perform your responsibilities outside of the office, and you are subject to the quarantine requirements described above, this will be considered an unpaid leave. The firm will permit you to allocate vacation or lieu time in this situation. [Bold and italicized emphasis added.]

For those of you who have already left on travel prior to the implementation of this policy, or have plans to leave within the next 48 hours, we will review your situation as it relates to compensation on a case by case basis. Regardless of your reason for travel, everyone will be required to self-isolate and stay away from our offices for at least 14 days.

There may be other legitimate reasons why you might choose to work from home rather than attend the office which the Firm supports. These might include, for example, those with underlying physical conditions that increase the consequences of being exposed to a virus, or people with childcare or eldercare responsibilities experiencing closures or the illness of their usual caregivers.

Regardless of the reason, the same policies regarding compensation while working from home will apply.

For those who choose or will be required to work from home please refer to our supplemental Work from Home Policy which will be emailed firmwide before 5pm ET today (Friday March 13).

Again, please consult with your People & Culture Manager with your individual questions or concerns.

This is a firm that makes hundreds of millions of dollars each year ($597 million in FY 2015 is the most recent numbers I could find) and it can’t pay its hourly employees? Employees who would be working at a GT office if they could and if it was safe to do so, and would be working from home if they had the ability to do so. Employees who helped GT Canada make its millions, BTW.

C’mon Kevin, this is the wrong thing to do. This is just as bad as professional sports teams not paying their hourly or part-time employees while their seasons have been put on hold because of the coronavirus. Even the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets changed their stances and now will make sure their part-time staff are getting paid.

Do the right thing, Kevin, and pay your hourly employees.

UPDATE: We were told this evening that Grant Thornton Canada CEO Kevin Ladner addressed the issue of compensation for hourly employees who are required to stay home but are unable to work earlier this morning (before our article was posted). Here’s part of what Ladner said in an email to GTers on Monday:

Last week we indicated that those who are not able to work from home would be required to take an unpaid leave. This particular reference was specifically related to a situation where colleagues who are not able to work from home, choose to travel outside Canada despite the firm’s recommendations, and are then subject to self-isolation following their return.

This week we are assessing the various circumstances upon which people may be required to stay home and not able to work. We’re reviewing any impacts this could have on compensation, and the various options available. I will share more about this before the end of this week.

If we get any additional information later this week, we’ll keep you guys posted.

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