October 27, 2020

Layoff Watch ’20: Rumor Has It That PwC Brazil Let Go of 600 Employees

[Updated on July 11 with additional information/comments.]

A tipster brought to our attention this morning that several people on his LinkedIn feed who worked at PwC in Brazil no longer work at PwC in Brazil as of July 9.

Here are a few of the posts, translated from Portuguese to English:

And today my journey at PwC Brazil ends.

Until today I remember the call informing me that I joined PwC, my onboarding was my first day at work.

It was 2 years of great learning, as well as personal and professional transformation. I thank everyone who was part of my journey, and I wish you all success. I am very proud to say that I was part of this wonderful company, and a spectacular area (Tax IAS).

Another from an associate who worked in Tax, Labor & Social Security:

Today, after 2 and a half years, I finish my cycle at PwC Brazil. I take with me the story of a university student who participated in several recruitment and selection fairs and after years of training she managed to fulfill her dream of working in a Big Four. I am immensely grateful to the leaders I met that day. To the Labor team, my eternal gratitude and my best wishes for success.

And another from an associate in Deals/Transaction Services:

I’ve been putting this off for a few weeks, maybe because I don’t know how to express it, maybe because I’m reluctant about what happened. This famous expression, the “new normal,” has affected several companies and, unfortunately, many have already succumbed and others are adapting to a new reality.

I was disconnected from PwC Brazil.

I received the news in mid-June that I would be disconnected a month later, along with hundreds of professionals from the firm and, since then, I have been waiting for the day when I would receive instructions when I have to return to the office to deliver my things.

I joined the firm at the age of 19, in July 2018, much earlier than I planned, I was in the sixth semester of my graduation in Accounting and I always had in my mind that the company was my goal. I managed to pass the battery of tests and interviews and joined as a trainee in the area of ​​Financial Due Diligence. I have to thank the team that always worked with me. Together, it was 2 years of immeasurable learning!

So everyone seems to be taking losing their job … pretty well, I’d say.

The last person mentioned he was being let go “along with hundreds of professionals from the firm.” Our tipster told us today that people on his LinkedIn timeline “are commenting 600 people all over Brazil offices” were laid off.

I also saw this post on the Consulting Exit Opportunities bowl on Fishbowl:

I reached out to someone on PwC Brazil’s communications team for a comment and to confirm that 600 people were let go, but I had to fill out one of those form email requests on the website, so who knows if I’ll even get a response back.

We don’t have a real large audience in Brazil (only 13 page views so far today, lol), but if anyone has additional information about the PwC Brazil layoffs, get in touch with us by text or email using the info below.

[UPDATED] Since we posted this article on Friday, a bunch of PwCers in Brazil have come out of the woodwork and told us their stories and provided some context on not only the layoffs but also what the culture has been like at the firm since the coronavirus pandemic started.

Here are some of the comments we received on Saturday. This first one is from a person who said (s)he was impacted by Thursday’s layoffs:

I can confirm that 600+ people were fired Thursday. Unfortunately I was on this boat and the number I have is that 617 people were fired, but I cannot confirm you 100% if this is right or not. Can be even more.

In the beginning of May, every one in the staff received a temporary adjustment in our working contract, having our hours diminished by 25-50% for 3 months. I personally got 25%, working 6 hours per day.

However, without any information, some people received an email in which the working contract would go back to the normal state, working 8 hours per day in the beginning of June. But it was a random selection, without any filter or explanation whatsoever, and 6 people from my area got this suspicious email (me included).

Some days later, I got a message from a friend that used to work with me at PwC in a different area (she got fired too) that they had a list of people they would fire, and they would start this around July.

At first I didn’t take it seriously, but when I saw partners sending goodbye emails in mid June I got concerned and after that, she messaged me again that everyone that got their working contract back to normal is on this list to be fired.

I talked with my manager and he had no clue at all. Even he was scared at this point, asking me almost everyday if I had something new about the matter. From where I can see, this decision wasn’t discussed with the leaders of each area, they just passed the list and said “that’s it, go tell them”.

Thursday was a very sad day. I was doing my job, reviewing the wp my assistant had done the day before and then pops up a message from the partner of my area asking if I could talk.

In the videochat, I could clearly see how she was devastated and was very difficult for her to give me the news, she was crying and very nervous about it. The others of my area that got fired with me said the same.

Her words were “I’m truly sorry for this, I couldn’t do nothing, it was out of my hands and it was an order from above”.

Every single manager talked to me, some just knew about it minutes after I got fired.

Rumor is that they are going to restructure PwC Brazil, and I truly believe this, hence some areas does not exist anymore after last Thursday. I believe some areas will incorporate the others in a big one, like CIT absorbing International Tax and maybe TP (my guess).

What I can say is, really really REALLY good professionals were fired, some with 30+ years of service, some with some impeccable CVs, some that others would fight to have that kind of professional working for them.

We don’t know yet what filter they used to do this and they didn’t give any explanation the day after for the ones that stayed at PwC, but for now looks like it hadn’t one at all. Random selection.

Here’s another message we got from a recently separated PwCer:

That number of 600 people is probably higher, I heard a manager talking about around 800 people, and the company here will have to restructure the way business used to be done.

They are already shutting down some offices

  • Cuiabá and Sorocaba – 100% sure
  • Curitiba, a city in the southern region of Brazil, isn’t closed yet – might be.

Here in Brazil we have a percentage of social security tax deducted from our monthly wage each month, this money goes to a fund called (FGTS) sort of a Length of Service Guarantee Fund, the problem is, the money has been deducted from our salary but hasn’t been deposited in the fund since March.

Our government approved a provisional measure that allowed companies to reduce employees salaries until 70% for 90 days (companies can choose from 25%, 50% and 70%.) That means that the company and the government will share the responsibility to pay PwC’s employee salaries.

PwC has been doing that for some months and I’m aware that some LoS (lines of service) choose to start with 25% and later went 50% or 70% due to some cash flow problems. The problem is that HR really f*cked up here and somehow lots of people weren’t inserted in the government database and are only receiving their part from PwC.

As far as I’m concerned the ones that were fired won’t have any problems (besides being unemployed) to receive their labor rights such as holidays, bonus, overtime bank balance and etc. I’m a little bit scared about this one.

So far, we’ve only heard about huge layouts from PwC, I’m not sure how EY, KPMG and Deloitte are holding up.

A PwCer who wasn’t laid off said this:

It is true that PwC Brazil sent away a lot of its personnel.

This began when the pandemic started getting worse and we had our hour diminished, but after one month some people were sent an email to get back at the 8 hour work.

I can say about my area and team, when this happened we did not know what was happening and why just a few people did receive this email, and our leaders did not know what to say about it. Some questioned if we were having cuts of personnel, but they did not confirm or say something about it.

And Thursday started out as a normal day and after some time, we started receiving goodbye emails. On my team were four people. The next day our leaders still have nothing to say to us. We’re still in the dark about it.

And one last one:

One thing that is important to note is that on July 1st there was a change in leadership in PwC Brazil. Fernando Alves, that was leader since 2001, left and Marco Castro assumed leadership. So some of the changes might be also a change due to this situation.

In March, when everything with the pandemic started, everyone started to wfh. And the majority still is wfh. All the offices are close for non essential personnel.

At the time Fernando Alves and the other leaders messages were, we are trying our best to preserve our people.

Sometime in March PwC join other companies in Brazil and help fund a movement called Não demita!. The companies that sung that plea made a promise to not fire anyone in the next 2 months.

The partner salaries were reduced. But it is not clear how much. There were some information going around that a capital call happened too.

In the end of April they sent an email informing that there wasn’t going to be any promotions, raises and evolution for FY 20. And that they will only be happening in June 2021.

There also was a hiring freeze. Including the new generation, the trainee program.

They informed us that was because some LoS were suffering and that was to preserve the people from those LoS.

At the same time PwC started to cut hours or to put contracts on hold, following a Brazil decree, in which the government helped the workers with some of the loss.

In the first week of July the partners had the CRT [career round table] discussion, we didn’t receive yet the results.

On Thursday there was a massive firing. The first information that I knew was 400, but during Friday the number 600 seemed more accurate. The are some rumors that two minor offices were closed also.

Since April a lot of partners had also left, in special from advisory and tax. These two LoS, together with support jobs such as HR, programmation, purchase…seem to be the ones with the higher impact.

It is very unclear the next step that PwC will take.

There are rumors that the number of staff that will revive higher grades will be lower too. And a lot of people that were considered grades 1 and 2 in preliminary CRT rounds were downgraded in the final one.

Marco Castro will hold a presentation on July 16 to talk about the year ahead. Probably then will be some kind of explanation.

So that it is our situation right now.

The other big 4 don’t appear to be making the same kind of decisions.

As I mentioned on Friday, if any PwCers in Brazil have other stories to share about the layoffs or what it’s like working there these days, get in touch with us using the contact information below.

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