City staff threaten to take legal action over ‘minuscule’ bonus payouts

City employers could be facing the threat of multiple legal claims from disgruntled workers contesting their bonus payouts.

Almost one-third (31%) of City workers classified their bonuses as “minuscule” and 16% described them as “disappointing” in a survey last week. Only a quarter (26%) of the 345 respondents polled by recruitment website rated their bonus as “predictable”.

Industry estimates have put average bonus payouts for senior market traders in credit derivatives at anything between £870,000 and £1.1m.

James Baker, solicitor at City law firm Macfarlanes, told Personnel Today: “It’s a difficult year for bonuses and employers are nervous about it. I’ve had questions [about claims] from both employers and employees.”

Changes to employment law, such as flexible working, and more awareness of employment rights, have made bonus payouts more contentious, said Baker.

“Employers need to reconcile the difference between the need to be transparent and retain their discretion,” he said.

But Richard Fuller, director of HR at asset management firm Threadneedle, dismissed the threat of claims.

“You will always get some people who think they should have got more. From my observations people seem generally happy with their bonus levels.”

Firms should give staff an idea of what to expect in their bonus entitlement during their performance reviews, he added.

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