Big Four firms in hot Spanish water after illegal overtime hours

27 October 2023 1 min. read
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Some employees working for Big Four consultancies in Spain have complained of working extended hours, prompting scrutiny and regulatory action. Spanish authorities probed discrepancies between recorded and actual working hours, focusing on concerns of potential labor law violations.

Employees at the Spain offices of Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG have lodged complaints for having to endure 16-hour workdays. Following a year-long inquiry into working practices at the Big Four accounting and consulting giants by the Spanish Labor Ministry, a fine of over €1.4 million is set to be imposed.

According to Spanish media, the companies did not keep proper logs of working hours, despite a 2019 law requiring companies to do so. That made calculating the exact number of excessive (illegal) overtime hours difficult.

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One PwC employee told Euronews that it was common for employees there to work 12 hour days. Another employee, from EY, said that the firm did not have clear policies for working overtime, with the culture expecting staff to work longer than normal, in particular during deadlines.

Working from 50 to 80 hours per week is not unusual in the consulting industry, which has long been known for intense work environments and tight deadlines. According to a survey from, over three quarters of consultants surveyed exceed their contract hours, working an average of 9.3 unpaid hours per week, as overtime is not a standard compensation practice in the industry.

In November of 2022, Spanish Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz launched an investigation into the Big Four consultancies, which included a raid on their local offices. The Ministry had been collecting information and documentation on working hours and overtime hours at these firms.

Despite huge profits at top consulting firms globally, some local Spanish employees were said to be earning remarkably poorly, with one source telling Euronews that some Madrid employees made as little as €14,000 a year.