October 29, 2008
Mandatory unpaid vacation -- what would you accept to save your paycheck?
This summer, there was a lot of talk about employers switching to shorter workweeks (specifically, four 10-hour days each week) to save in-house energy costs and give employees some relief at the gas pump. I've heard some folks grumble that such schedule changes would be disastrous for parents with small kids. But I'd like to think that an organization flexible enough to adjust its workweek is flexible enough to accommodate workers who have child care conflicts with the suggested schedule changes.
Apparently the state government -- which saw some departments switch to a four-day workweek earlier this month -- was able to accomodate such workers. Among the adjustments: working from home on Fridays for those who couldn't always work 10-hour days Monday through Thursday.
This week we've heard about another kind of scheduling tweak in regional government to save money, and presumably jobs: the proposition of 15 King County unions that employees take 10 unpaid days off in 2009 to help the county ease next year's anticipated $93 million budget deficit. (In case you haven't been following along, at the start of October, King County Executive Ron Sims announced that 2009 would bring layoffs and wage freezes to some county employees in an effort to help balance next year's budget.)
I work for myself, so the thought of unpaid days off doesn't give me hives. For me, this is the norm. But I can understand why employees may not have the same reaction. So, readers, do tell: What would you be willing to tolerate to potentially save your job? Two weeks unpaid "vacation"? Ongoing overtime? A salary cut?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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