Delaware’s largest industrial employer is asking its salaried workers to take at least two weeks’ unpaid leave. 75 of the company’s senior leaders announced that they will take three weeks off without pay in response to the current market conditions. There are a number of reasons to consider initiating this type of voluntary program instead of involuntary layoffs. According to the article reported by the Wilmington News Journal:
Employers appear to be favoring voluntary programs, according to a February survey by Watson Wyatt consulting firm. Eleven percent of the 245 U.S.-based companies surveyed have instituted mandatory furloughs, while another 6 percent expect to launch a program in the next 12 months. By comparison, 10 percent already have had voluntary furloughs and another 9 percent are expected to ask for voluntary furloughs within the next 12 months, the survey said.
A DuPont representative cited the current preference for flexible work schedules as one reason for its decision to initiate the voluntary program. Another reason was that it made compliance with foreign laws easier than if an involuntary layoff program had been utilized.
For those of us on the East Coast, where summer is king, now may be an ideal time to consider offering a flexible-downsizing initiative. If your organization is trying to cut labor costs without having to layoff its valued employees, you may want to think about unpaid leave, voluntary furloughs, and reduced-schedule work week. If your employees traditionally flock to the beach on Friday afternoons, they may jump at the chance to work a four-day week for 4/5 of their normal pay. Even a temporary program for the summer months may be enough to enable your organization to stave off unwanted involuntary reductions.
I’ll be conducting an audio conference on layoff alternatives in June for M. Lee Smith Publishers. Be sure to check out the HR Hero website for lots of resources on employment-law and human-resource topics, including information about voluntary and mandatory furloughs. Delaware employers can learn more about the legal considerations involved in layoffs at our annual Employment Law Seminar on April 29. (Learn more about the employment-law seminar here and register for the seminar here).