Consultant firm Accenture is to cut 1,400 jobs at offices around the world. The move comes after KPMG Consulting and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young announced recent cuts.
Accenture, the former Andersen Consulting, will cut 600 jobs. A further 800 employees - mainly in the U.S. - will be asked to take voluntary sabbaticals for up to a year, and draw on a fifth of their salaries and benefits.
Partners at Accenture voted overwhelmingly in favor of a float of the business last April. Workers on the sabbatical program which will be known as "FlexLeave" will still be able to take part in the IPO.
As with other job cuts in the sector, the global economic downturn is blamed for the decision, as well as the lowest personnel attrition rate in years at the firm.
Accenture expects a new increase in the total worldwide headcount for the year of at least 9,000 people, thanks to continued growth and the increase in its European-based business, according to our sister site, AccountingWEB.co.uk.
"While we had hoped to avoid making any workforce reductions, even temporary ones, the current economic climate and our lower-than-usual attrition levels have created a modest imbalance between the demand for our services and our current staffing levels," said Joe Forehand, Accenture managing partner and CEO.
"The FlexLeave program will enable us to balance the skill sets and geographic mix of our workforce and trim costs in the short term, while retaining the highly skilled and talented people we have recruited and trained. In addition, the reductions in some support positions will enable us to maximize operational efficiencies."
Accenture employs more than 75,000 people in 46 countries. The company generated revenues of $9.75 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2000, and $5.71 billion for the six months ended February 28, 2001.