Morning Coffee: 23 year-old's method of avoiding long hours in law and banking. Deutsche Bank arrives in 2017
Firstly, this won't work if you're on Wall Street or in Asia. There, if you want to avoid 80+ hour weeks, you'll either have to make an executive decision that working all those hours won't make much difference to your pay, or you'll need to work for a bank that's a stickler for enforcing the new weekends-off rules - and even so, you'll still be working a lot longer than the average.
If you're in London or elsewhere in Europe, however, a more straightforward option for getting your evenings and weekends back is available. Any time you like, you can simply opt back into the European Working Time Directive, which says you must work - on average - no more than a 48 hour week and must have 11 consecutive hours of rest in a 24 hour period.
The Working Time Directive is enshrined in law, but it's possible to opt out. Employers can ask you to opt out, but they can't compel you to. More importantly, they can't sack you or treat differently if you refuse to. Most banks and professional services firms expect employees to sign opt-outs as a matter of course, but....it seems one trainee has come up with the bright idea of opting in again.
Roll on Friday, the website which reports goings-on at UK law firms, reports that a trainee at Evershed Sutherland who's decided not to stay with the firm after qualifying has figured that he/she might as well take it easy for the final few months, and has opted back into the working time directive. Solicitors typically spend 24 months on training contracts before taking qualifying exams in the final quarter of the second year and - like junior bankers, junior lawyers can work very long hours. UK law firm Eversheds merged with U.S. firm Sutherlands last year and U.S. laws firms (like U.S. banks) are notorious for working their employees the hardest of all.
Eversheds isn't commenting on the claim, but opting back into the EU working time directive could catch-on among over-worked juniors in law firms and banks. The British Trades Union Congress has even drafted a helpful email for anyone who wants to contact their employer and assert their rights. In some cases, the TUC says your opt out will have specified a three month notice period for opting-in again; if not you can opt back in within seven days. Needless to say, doing so is unlikely to go down well with banks who expect juniors to work 80+ hour weeks as a matter of course. Even though they can't sack you for opting-in, they'll likely to find another reason to get rid of you given time, so it's only really worth wielding the opt-in if your days are already numbered.
Separately, Deutsche Bank is modernizing. Not only is it engaging in a full upgrade of all its IT systems, but its decided to ditch the Blackberry. Four years after Goldman Sachs began embracing iPhones and seven years after J.P. Morgan and UBS made the switch, Bloomberg reports that Deutsche is doing it too. From now on, the German bank will not be issuing Blackberries to employees any more. The move comes after clients reportedly mocked Deutsche Bankers for their Blackberry fetishism.
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