Spain Acts As ‘Marathon Working Days’ Seem To Have Become The Norm At ‘Big Four’
The Spanish Labour Ministry had been investigating whether employees at the so-called ‘Big Four’ consultancies were actually working longer hours than their records showed.
A year after starting to investigate working practices and conditions at Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG, the public body has decided to impose a fine totalling at least €1.4 million.
Spanish media report the probe was not easy as the consultancies lacked an hourly register, which is a requirement for all companies since the change in Spanish law in 2019.
Working 12 Hours Per Day Seemed Completely Normal
In some cases, employees of the Big Four complained about working up to 16 hours per day. Like his colleagues, Sergio Padilla, a former employee at PwC in Madrid, used to work 12 hours.
Working from 9 am to 9 pm seemed completely normal to Padilla – whose name has been changed to protect his identity – as all his colleagues were in the same situation.
He would barely have any free time after work. During his two years with the consultancy, he said he became increasingly “bitter” until he finally decided to leave voluntarily.
Worsening Working Conditions Amid Record Profits
According to Raúl de la Torre from Comisiones Obreras, a Spanish trade union, working conditions have only worsened since 2008, while companies have reported record profits.
“A few months ago [employers] wanted to include in the agreement that we had to work up to 12 hours a day from Monday to Saturday, without any additional compensation.”
“We launched a campaign on social media that led to the first strike in the sector,” de la Torre noted, adding Spain’s consulting sector has seen major workforce fatigue.
Fresh Graduates Seeing Sacrifice As A Way To Success
The Big Four firms have been raking in significant profits. According to the newspaper Expansión, the companies made €2.5 billion during the fiscal year in 2021.
After months of negotiations and strikes, graduate workers who were previously paid €14,100 gross a year will now earn up to €15,300.
It appears marathon working days have become the norm at the ‘Big Four’, with newly recruited fresh graduates seeing the sacrifice as a way to catapult their careers.