The coronavirus has reached Israel's largest accounting firm: following a meeting of the partners in the EY Israel financial consulting and accounting firm (Ernst & Young - Kost Forer Gabbay & Kasierer), management notified the firm's employees today of a number of measures resulting from the spread of the virus.
A letter sent to the employees states that out of responsibility for the firm's employees, partners, and clients, its activity has been adjusted to the changing situation in the past two weeks, during which most of the firm's employees were asked to work from home, insofar as this was possible, and in some cases to go on vacation.
Now, with the spread of the disease and the new orders in the matter issued by the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Health, management has decided on a number of additional steps, including a substantial cut in compensation for all of the firm's partners and putting some of the firm's employees on unpaid leave until the end of April and perhaps beyond that date. Employees not on unpaid leave will begin their Passover vacations in the coming days, lasting until April 19 and possibly longer, if necessary. The vacation will be deducted from the employees' vacation days, but will not affect their salaries.
Management stated that these measures were necessary at this stage in order to cope with the difficult and changing situation, and would enable the firm to meet the challenge in the coming months. It cannot be ruled out, however, that additional steps will be necessary later, depending on developments. All of these measures were taken following dialogue and consultation with representatives of the workers' organization. The firm will continue providing its full range of services to its clients, and will do everything it can in order to assist them at this challenging time.
EY Israel is part of international firm Ernst & Young, one of the world's four largest accounting firms, which operates in 150 countries and has over 200,000 employees worldwide. EY Israel has 2,000 employees, composed of accountants, accounting interns, headquarters and administrative staff, economists, lawyers, and tax specialists. Most of the firm's employees work in the partners' central headquarters in the Bitzaron neighborhood in Tel Aviv, and hundreds more are spread over branches in Haifa, Beer Sheva, and Jerusalem.
The company provides its clients with accounting and auditing services, tax consultation, and strategic advice in deals for companies from a range of sectors: insurance companies, banks and financial service companies, the auto industry, technology companies, real estate, energy, retail companies, non-profit organizations, etc.
As part of putting most of the firm's employees on vacation, EY Israel notified most of its headquarters and administrative staff that they would be put on leave, because the firm did not need them in the coming period. Most of the professional staff was allowed to choose between going on unpaid leave and going on paid leave, to be deducted from their vacation days.
The measures were coordinated with the firm's workers' committee, headed by Yosef Levinzon, CPA.
In 2017, the firm's employees made history by signing the first collective agreement in the accounting sector with EY Israel chairman Ronen Barel. The agreement, signed through the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel), is valid until 2022. It contains organizational and economic sections for improving the employees' conditions, increasing the number of their vacation days, and clauses for increasing employment security.
The wave of union organizing among employees at accounting firms was first reported in "Globes" two years ago, when employees at the five biggest firms in the Israeli market began to organize a committee. The first employees to take this step were the employees at EY Israel.
The workers' committee now realizes that the putting of employees on leave by the firm is unavoidable. Many employees are voicing severe criticism of the measure, which they say did not have to be so general, but the workers' committee is trying to explain to them that the firm has reached a situation shared by firms all over the world, due to the coronavirus.
EY Israel has also spoken of devising an assistance package for employees on unpaid leave in order to alleviate the damage they are liable to suffer.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 26, 2020
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