June 18, 2009
Are working furloughs becoming the norm?
What a difference a couple of seasons make. Last fall, warnings that 2009 would be the year of the furlough were daunting enough.
As the year got under way, we began to hear the tales of how workers were spending their mandatory days off, whether it was best to devote that time to professional development, and how some employers were forbidding furloughed workers to log in from home and check e-mail.
But June seems to be the month of the working furlough.
First, the New York Times published a piece on furloughed workers who either felt it wouldn't be politically savvy to stop working or were flat-out denied the unpaid days off because their department was short-staffed. One furloughed Chicago salesman interviewed by the New York Times had this to say about his managers:
"You're not sure what they're watching....Do some people feel that they have to work those hours? Yes."
Other furloughed workers said they felt bad leaving their colleagues back at the office to toil without them (yes, even if their colleagues were getting paid to be there). Still others said that they had too much on their plate to take the days off, despite the fact that they'd be working for free.
Then on Tuesday, British Airways announced that it would be asking thousands of its employees to take up to four weeks of unpaid leave -- but that employees would have the option to work for free during that time. ("Gee, thanks, boss. But I think I'll use the time to polish my resume or pick up some temp work.")
Readers, if you've been furloughed recently, how did you handle it? Did you feel pressured -- either by your employer, your coworkers, or your inner workaholic -- to work during some of your unpaid time off? Or were you happy to take the days off and run?
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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