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Layoff or Day Off?

OPB | Feb. 25, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:49 p.m.

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Soon. / Flickr / Creative Commons None

Washington state released their latest unemployment figures today. Oregon is expected to follow later this week and Oregon’s news — much like Washington’s — is not expected to be good. More and more people are losing their jobs as the economy continues to slide. What about people who are not being laid off, but whose employers are starting to feel the pinch?

Some companies are cutting salaries by five or ten percent. (That may not sound like much, but if you’re living paycheck to paycheck it may mean a present-less birthday party for your daughter or a missed mortgage payment.) Other companies are lapsing on their employees’ medical insurance payments. How are you being chipped away at in this economy? How are those small changes changing your life?

In order to avoid layoffs, many companies are asking if their workers want to work fewer days for less pay as a way to reduce company expenses. The state is geting into the act, too: Governor Kulongoski has suggested that teachers work for free in order to make up some of the difference in the education budget this year.

Frank Ahrens wrote a provocative piece for the Washington Post‘s Economy Watch blog recently that explored the idea of “Furlough Weekends”:

Would you like 10 more three-day weekends per year? Would you still take them if the third day was unpaid — and if your alternative was getting laid off? One of the biggest costs of any employer is payroll. In the ongoing economic crisis, employers are looking for any way to cut costs and many are resorting to layoffs. But many others — from an RV-maker in Oregon to the Gannett newspaper chain in McLean to the state government of California — have turned to involuntary furloughs, or unpaid days off, as a way of cutting payroll costs while avoiding painful layoffs. That got us here at The Ticker thinking: What if employees facing furlough could choose their furlough days?

If you are an employer, what are you offering employees in order to avoid all (or some) layoffs? How do you balance your books with the needs of your employees? If you are an employee, how are you being affected by this downturn? Are your hours or salary or benefits being cut? Have you been offered a voluntary pay cut in return more free time? Have you accepted the offer?

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