October 30, 2020

Layoff Watch ’20: PwC Canada Confirms It Is Handing Out Pink Slips (UPDATE)

[Updated on July 16 with additional information.]

Ugh, here we go again. Another big Canadian firm is cutting employees during the pandemic, and the latest victims are from PwC.

We got this tip around lunchtime on July 15:

Lay offs have started in a few offices in PwC Canada, including me. I’m only aware of assurance and some admin staff at the moment. Lay offs due to restructuring/cost savings, not due to performance. Don’t know the magnitude of layoffs. Supposedly it started yesterday as well.

We contacted PwC Canada Wednesday afternoon for comment, and a spokesperson provided us with the following statement:

Like many organizations, PwC Canada is constantly looking at changes we can make to best meet the evolving needs of our clients and deliver differently. As a result of our most recent review which began last Fall, and based on the anticipated needs of our business and our clients, we have adjusted our model and related staff complement.

While these decisions are never easy, we have ensured that those impacted by this decision are treated fairly and with care.

PwC wouldn’t comment on how many people were laid off or what lines of service were affected.

Last month we were told that Canadian PwCers in tax were volutold by management to participate in a reduced work hour arrangement and threatened employees with layoffs if there wasn’t 100% participation. We don’t know if the same threat was made to PwCers in assurance and advisory.

With this round of layoffs happening at PwC, every Big 4 firm in Canada has now had some sort of job cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Grant Thornton, RSM, and BDO. You can read all the gory details about what happened at those firms by clicking on the links below.

If you’ve been impacted by the layoffs at PwC Canada or have any additional information to share, get in touch with us by using the contact info below.

[UPDATE] We’ve heard from several people on Thursday who have chimed in on the PwC Canada layoffs. We’ve heard that more layoffs have occurred today, and we’ve heard that layoffs will continue into next week.

We’ve been told by two people who were let go on Wednesday that they received nine weeks of severance from PwC.

One person who worked at PwC for two years before losing their job yesterday was told (s)he was being let go for poor performance, which this person told us is “Bullshit!!!” During this person’s meeting with a partner and HR yesterday, (s)he was allegedly told that the lowest 5% of performers at the firm were being cut. PwC Canada states on its website that it has more than 7,600 staff and partners.

This person added:

They are manipulating the “lay-off” to look like termination.

A source from PwC in Toronto said there were roughly 20 people who were let go in assurance.

Six managers, about 6-10 seniors and rest were associates. It was very few and very targeted. Most were performance related because we have ratings and bonuses coming out this week. The rest were probably politics (ie partner didn’t like someone).

Overall it was very targeted to specific people and not a mass layoff because of covid. We are still moving forward with bonuses and promotions next week and salary increases.

Assurance was also targeted at another PwC office in a major Canadian city, as a person who was let go on Wednesday morning told us “I received no prior notice whatsoever. For restructuring purposes, they said.”

This person told us they heard 10 PwCers in assurance were let go at this office, even employees who performed well.

From what I’ve heard, management made those decisions which were not based on performance whatsoever, without notifying managers/senior managers.

And the way they did it was quite cruel, immediate termination, removed all access within the hour after.

Another person who worked at PwC for six years in a non-client-facing role told us their position was eliminated due to a “company restructuring.”

Today I came to know they got rid of 21 people just from our department.

A source who hasn’t been impacted by the layoffs said internal firm services/admin staff is one area being hit the hardest but added, “I have heard of some big fish getting fired in assurance and deals.”

This person also told us the firm has been “absurdly cruel” in the way it has handled the layoffs.

We were all cryptically notified by leadership on Tuesday that big changes were coming (i.e. layoffs) and to wait for a meeting with our manager. We have had to sit and worry, some of us for 3 days, wondering if we’re going to get the axe, while our long-time colleagues are being fired around us.

Management is being vague and telling us not to talk about what’s happening. We’re finding out who was let go via word of mouth. We do not know yet why some people were kept and others laid off. Many people being let go have been with the firm for decades.

We’ll continue to update this article as we get more information. If you have something to add, email or text us using the contact info below.

Related article:

Rumor Mill: PwC Canada Strongly Encouraging Tax Staff to Work Less So They Don’t Have to Fire You

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Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

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