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Asking for unpaid furlough versus a salary cut
February 3, 2009 5:31 AM   Subscribe

I am thinking of asking for a furlough rather than just accepting an impending salary cut. Help me do this successfully!

My company is planning furloughs and salary cuts, as well as other measures. I am fairly certain my salary will be cut by 10-20% but that I will not be furloughed. But from what I can see, furloughing looks like a better deal when we're talking about a 20% cut or more (i.e. one day a week). Is this thinking misguided? My workload will be 50%-100% higher in the coming months, so my chances of getting things done are even slimmer if I am on unpaid furlough, but I would rather work 80% for 80% pay and use the time to find another position, etc. How can I attempt to negotiate my way into a temporary furlough rather than a regular salary cut?
posted by ml98tu to Work & Money (7 answers total)
 
How big is your company? How autonomous is your branch of the company? Who is getting furlough and who is getting salary decreases? Chances are, if there's going to be more work for you in the near future, you won't get furlough. Unless you have some strategy for increasing productivity, they might even think of replacing you if you're looking to work less. Be happy you have a job, because the 3rd option following pay cuts and furloughs is laying people off.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:15 AM on February 3, 2009


The problem with a furlough is that you may not have a job to come back to - if you stay in the job, at least you still have one...
posted by echo0720 at 9:32 AM on February 3, 2009


The problem with a furlough is that you may not have a job to come back to - if you stay in the job, at least you still have one...

From reading the question, it seems to be the type of furlough where the asker would continue to work, but only four days a week. That does sound like a much better deal, since you at least get a day off to compensate for reduced pay.

Your only real leverage in this situation (or pretty much any situation where you're an employee) is to threaten to quit. Not explicitly, but if they value your work, allude to your unhappiness with the salary cut scenario and maybe they'll take the hint. Also maybe try drawing up a detailed plan of how you could accomplish in four days a week what you currently do in five.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:40 AM on February 3, 2009


How can I attempt to negotiate my way into a temporary furlough rather than a regular salary cut?

Well, all you can do is ask. It doesn't sound like you have great options, so I would maximize what's given to you. As noted, if you press too hard, they may just feel they're better off giving your job to somebody else.

The expectation of increased workload just makes it sound like they have a really good reason not to take you up on this. Normally a negotiation involves selling someone on a benefit. If you think you could be 50% more productive working a 32-hour week, thus getting 48 "hours" of work done, they might be interested.
posted by dhartung at 9:43 AM on February 3, 2009


I'd talk about your productivity and ability to get your work done during the other four days.
posted by salvia at 9:44 AM on February 3, 2009


Also maybe try drawing up a detailed plan of how you could accomplish in four days a week what you currently do in five.

If you're going to go down this road, don't do it like that. It doesn't paint yourself in a good light to say, "I've been taking 5 days to do what I could have been doing in 4." Make sure your plan outlines what is not going to get done, concretely. These should be non-critical things (to show your ability to prioritize), but you should be preserving the image of yourself as a 5-, not 4-day-a-week employee.

Good luck!
posted by mkultra at 1:27 PM on February 3, 2009


Just so I understand-

Some people will be asked to take pay cuts. Instead of making $20 an hour, they will now make $18.

Others will be asked to take furloughs. Does this mean a temporary lay-off? Everyone takes an unpaid week off per month? Or do you mean it to mean an actual lay-off, where they tell people to go home and they'll call them if they need them again?

And so what you want to do is: instead of taking a rate cut, you will take an hour cut? You'll keep your $20 an hour, but only work 4 days a week?

I see the benefits being- you maintain your rate of pay. You have an extra day off a week. You show that you are a team player. When the workload gets bigger, they are much more likely to say "come on back for that 5th day" then they are to say "hey, here's your 20% back."

I see the downsides as- you prove you could have been more productive this whole time. You prove that your job is really only worth 4/5 of what they thought it was.

Possible compromise- 5% cut and work 4, 9 hour days.

I would probably take the route you suggest, with the caveat that there will be some things that you have to "triage" and not get done in maybe as quick of a manner as you would working 5 days. But emphasize that you understand the need to reduce costs in these hard times, and that this would be the best way for you to do it. That your plan reduces the company's costs while recognizing that your time is not worth any less.
posted by gjc at 5:45 PM on February 3, 2009


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