Deloitte in Hong Kong imposes 15-day unpaid leave on some employees, non-compliance could lead to termination

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1st December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms in Hong Kong, reportedly mandated some of its employees to take unpaid leave, according to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal. The firm has yet to officially respond to these allegations.

The Wall Street Journal received complaints suggesting that the senior management team of Deloitte recently announced that employees outside of the auditing departments must take at least 15 days of unpaid leave over a three-month period, beginning in December this year and lasting until February of the following year. If employees do not comply with this mandate, they risk being ‘Counselled Out’, according to insiders quoted by the informants.

Unnamed sources revealed to the Wall Street Journal tha Liu Qihongnational managing partner of Deloitte China Capital Market Services Department, and another senior partner Lao Jianchang, convened a company meeting. They announced that non-audit departments in every city division in China, including management consulting, financial consulting, risk consulting, and attestation employees, must take at least five days of unpaid leave each month from December this year to February next. This equates to a minimum of 15 unpaid leave days within the three months.

The informants quoted from the meeting, stating that if the company’s financial situation does not improve satisfactorily after the implementation of these measures, the unpaid leave policy might extend until the end of May next year. The management team reportedly described the unpaid leave as a flexible option, presenting it as a form of job security. If employees do not comply with the unpaid leave, however, they risk being ‘Counselled Out’.

Some insiders criticised the company’s move, which they perceive as forcing employees to take 15 days of unpaid leave. They claim that many are angry but dare not speak out. “In the Big Four, we are already one of the top earners. But this year, our bonuses have been cut to worse than during the pandemic, and we are routinely not compensated for overtime. Even the annual dinner that was announced has been suddenly cancelled!” an unnamed source said discontentedly.

As of last week, Deloitte had reportedly sent out emails to individual departments, reminding relevant employees to fill in the dates for their unpaid leave. An obtained company email stated, “In accordance with the communications during the special meeting, please fill in the following detailed information and provide us with your leave arrangements.”