Accountancy firms’ working practices have come under the spotlight following research which reveals that four out of 10 accountants are fed up with their long hours.
The study, published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants this month, finds that regular working in the evenings and at weekends is common.
A total of 57 per cent of respondents said they often work evenings, 37 per cent work at weekends and 27 per cent fail to take leave entitlements.
The study forms the first phase of the institute’s workplace initiative to tackle skills shortages in the profession.
Kathryn Britten, chairwoman of the initiative said, “The first phase of the research reflects a real concern that failing to comply with the stereotypical office-based, long-hours culture is detrimental to the individual’s career.”
The findings, which also cover HR managers, show that flexible working practices are spreading.
All firms surveyed offer part-time/reduced hours working and study leave and 80 per cent provide secondment opportunities and career breaks.
However, many respondents are unaware of all the flexible provisions offered by firms.
Only 12 per cent of respondents said it was easy to find out about work-life support programmes in their organisations.
Carmen Burton, HR manager for the accountancy firm the Norton Practice, told Personnel Today that her firm was reviewing its working hours.
She said, “From a personal point of view, we don’t like employees to work weekends but evening work is up to the employee.
“We are looking at flexible working practices but our partners have reservations about this - it’s an issue of trust.”
Burton agrees with the survey’s findings that chartered accountants under 30 are most likely to regard working long hours as unacceptable. She said, “I’ve noticed trainees are less adaptable to long working hours.”
The research was conducted by the Umist school of management and Manchester Metropolitan University, which received 670 responses from chartered accountants.