At Least 50% of Locums Will Think Twice Before Taking Office Based Assignments
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At Least 50% of Locums Will Think Twice Before Taking Office Based Assignments

A new phenomenon is occurring since about July 2020 – some locums are now very reluctant to take assignments that involve any or all of the time being based in an office rather than working remotely.

Law Firms Traditionally Refuse Remote Working Options

This is an astonishing turnaround from days gone by, with a good number of locums shying away from firms who are offering remote working as an option, and instead opting to work in an office.

Locums Traditionally Avoid Remote Working Roles

It represents a complete change in the locum landscape from sending out assignments where a large number of locums would not respond if there was any hint of remote working, through to huge numbers responding now if a role is remote working, and not so many if it is office based.

Lower Hourly Rates for Remote Working

A good number of locums do not seem to appreciate that remote working invariably involves a lower hourly rate because of the sheer competition, and also the reduced costs involved in providing locum services, but there is so much competition there for every assignment with remote working that hourly rates are being ratcheted down to levels not seen since about 2008 to 2010.

Factors Affecting Remote Working Increase – Locum Age

One of the key issues of course is the age of the locum cohort and it is probably correct to say that at least 75% of locums are over the age of 50. Some have existing health conditions which resulted in their early retirement from practice, and for them to take up locuming. Others have other family members who require ongoing support and may have pre-existing health conditions themselves, so locums can be reluctant to take assignments where there is the possibility they pick up the coronavirus from a place of work and passing it on to family members.

Advice for Securing A Good Locum at a Reasonable Price

Our advice to firms looking for locums at the moment is to try and think carefully as to whether you really need somebody working from the office, or whether it can be arranged for them to work remotely providing you are comfortable working with the locum in question.

Bit Nervous About Remote Working Locums?

One way round not really trusting the locum at the outset of the assignment would be to have them on site for two to three days to start and then allow them to work remotely. This way you get to see who they are and the quality of their work, and then they get to work remotely once those first few days are up.

You will increase the number of applicants you get tremendously because it is getting increasingly hard to persuade anybody of the merits of taking an office based job in some parts of the country. It is particularly so where local lockdowns are in place, and locums are worried about taking an assignment for you that might have to be cancelled due to a lockdown, when they could be working remotely for another company.

Locums Turning Down Office Based Roles – An Example

This has happened in recent times with a locum who was offered an office based role in one part of the country for four months, but turned it down because he had been offered a remote post paying close to the same amount of money that was possibly four months but possibly shorter. In times gone by he would almost certainly have gone with the office based role, but because of the coronavirus and the potential lockdown in the area the office based role was in, he has gone with the remote role and turned down the office based role. We are seeing this again and again at the moment, and so our advice to anybody is to think carefully before asking for a locum to be based at an office.

Jonathan Fagan is a legal recruitment consultant for Interim Lawyers and Managing Director of Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited. "I have been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years. I am a non-practising solicitor, on the Roll since June 2000, and also a director of the Ten-Percent Group of Legal Recruitment websites. I also regularly comment on legal recruitment via my blog https://www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.co.uk. Interim Lawyers is the specialist locum arm of the Ten-Percent group and we have over 1100 locums on the books. We can usually keep our locums busy throughout the year, although it does very much depend on the market and fields of law. Get in touch with me to register assignments or look for locum work."