KPMG has asked staff to take a 15 per cent pay cut, calling it a "salary sacrifice" needed since it doesn't qualify for the government wage subsidy.
It is also cutting partner drawings by 20 to 40 per cent, a move in line with two other big four accountants, EY and PwC. However, those firms have not disclosed how much their reductions are.
Deloitte, which is also rated as one of the "big four," did not respond to BusinessDesk's request for information earlier this month.
Last Thursday, KPMG asked staff who earn more than $55,000 a year to make a 15 per cent salary sacrifice for the four months from May to August, in return for 12 days of special leave. This will affect 70 per cent of its workforce.
Its workers were "encouraged" to take the leave by the end of August but it is available until the end of January next year.
The firm would not be specific about what would happen if the staff didn't agree to the arrangement, or how many had agreed.
"While we do not currently envisage a 30 per cent revenue reduction on last year, there is considerable uncertainty over revenue in the current environment, which is why we're taking this measure," the firm said in response to BusinessDesk's question. The wage subsidy requires a declaration of a 30 per cent revenue drop due to covid-19.
"The measures we are taking are a reflection of the scale of the uncertainty we face, the likely impact of covid-19 on our economy in the months to come, and our commitment to protecting the firm and our people's jobs," it said.
The firm, which employs more than 1,000 people, said it had also increased partner capital contributions – but would not disclose by how much – and cut expenses.
"By introducing special leave rather than a reduction in hours for our people, we remain available for our clients as we work through this uncertain time alongside them, while still providing consideration to our people for their support and understanding of these difficult measures," KPMG said, adding it would end the "salary sacrifice" period earlier if it could.
While none of the big four accounting firms has taken the wage subsidy, according to the Ministry of Social Development's database, some of the smaller firms have.
BDO has received about $1 million in subsidies through its partnerships in Tauranga, Northland and the central North Island.
The firm's chair, David O'Connor, said its policy was that managing partners of member firms could take actions based on their circumstances.
Similarly, Baker Tilly Staples Rodway has been paid $1.68m to date across three offices, Auckland, Tauranga and Hawke's Bay. The amount covers 243 employees.
The subsidy is paid as a lump sum and covers employees for 12 weeks from payment date.
While audits won't stop, discretionary consultancy work is expected to dry up as it is the first to go when companies tighten their belts.
To date, most of the firms known to introduce pay cuts to staff or implement redundancies, such as Fletcher Building and Air New Zealand, have taken up the wage subsidy.
Over in law land, three of the "big six" firms – Bell Gully, MinterEllisonRuddWatts and Simpson Grierson – have taken the wage subsidy.
Of these, Simpson Grierson is the only one to confirm it has also cut partner drawings.