BusinessDesk: Russell McVeagh, Lane Neave hike staff pay in response to cost of living

Two commercial law firms have hiked their pay for all staff to help keep up with the rising cost of living. Russell McVeagh, which employs about 320 people across Auckland and Wellington, has given its employees a 7.5% salary increase.

Chief executive Jo Avenell referenced the impacts of the pandemic as well as the cost of living as factors behind the pay hike. The past few years had been “tough”, she said, and Russell McVeagh wanted to thank its people. “This increase is a separate one-off increase outside of our annual remuneration review cycle, which will take place as usual later this year. “We know our people are critical to our success, and appreciate their commitment to our clients and each other. We will continue to consider ways in which to support them.”

Unanimously agreed Citing the ever-increasing cost of living, Lane Neave chief executive Peter Dwan said the law firm’s partners had unanimously agreed to increase base remuneration for all staff by 7% from July 1. “The partners are hopeful that this increase will help all our staff and their families personally, and also reflect their importance to the firm.”

The pace of inflation hit its highest level in more than three decades for the 12 months to March, reaching 6.9%. Housing, transport and food costs were the big drivers.

Aotearoa Legal Workers’ Union (ALWU) co-president Tess Upperton said the union welcomed the move from Russell McVeagh and Lane Neave and called on other legal employers to follow suit. “It is great to see legal employers take this step and acknowledge the impact of the cost of living crisis on workers’ lives,” she said.

Upperton made the point that employees who weren’t getting a pay rise equivalent to the rate of inflation were effectively getting a salary cut. “Accordingly, ALWU would expect a pay rise triggered by inflation to apply across the board to all workers at a workplace, and for this to take place over and above normal salary reviews,” she said.

Inflation and the cost of living were the number one issue for respondents in a May survey conducted by Ipsos, followed by housing and the state of healthcare/hospitals.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Oliver Lewis Senior Journalist Oliver Lewis has an interest in health, infrastructure, housing and employment issues. Formerly with Stuff/The Press, Oliver has since contributed to a range of publications, including the Guardian and North & South.