Practice introducing 20% cuts for majority of 1,400 employees

Foster + Partners has become the first major architect to admit it is furloughing staff and introducing pay cuts throughout the company.

The country’s second biggest architect, which according to its 2019 accounts had just over 1,300 staff, said it had begun to furlough staff as well as ask employees to take a 20% cut in salaries.

Michael Bloomberg and Norman Foster at the topping-out of Bloomberg's European HQ

Source: Jason Alden

Michael Bloomberg and Norman Foster at the topping-out of Bloomberg’s European HQ

The Bloomberg building architect, which now has just over 1,400 staff, shelled out more than £80m in wages and salaries in the year to April 2019 and Fosters’ managing partner Matthew Streets said: “We have asked all our staff worldwide to take a temporary pay cut of 20% for three months, with a minimum protected salary of £25,000.”

Fosters confirmed that those earning less than £25,000 would be exempt from the pay cut.

Streets added that it was furloughing staff who were unable to carry out their work at home.

He said: “The safety of our people and the safeguarding of their livelihoods is at the heart of all our decisions. At this time, we believe that these measures are the best way to help protect the practice.”

It has not disclosed how many staff have been put on furlough – the government’s jobs retention scheme set up by chancellor Rishi Sunak last month. Under the initiative, impacted employees receive up to 80% of their salaries up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

In its last set of results, Fosters posted an improved pre-tax profit of £21.5m on turnover up 21% to £258m.