Workplace talking about mandatory unpaid leave to save $-- is this legal??

I heard a pernicious rumor today that somewhere, in some meeting, some higher-ups in my place of employment considered aloud the possibility of forcing employees to take days of leave without pay in order to save money.

This makes me furious, because even one day a month would make a noticeable difference in my budget, and it sounded like they were talking about more like one day a week. I would have to get a second job to make up the difference, and in this economy, where could I go?

Why would they do this? Why wouldn’t they just lay people off? And how can they, when so many people accepted employment on written terms that they would be working full-time and making $x a month?

I’m so incredibly in awe that they’d even consider this… we’re already paid far below the national (and even state!) average for what we do, and now this??

I don’t even know what I’d do. I’d have to work fast food on the side, or something… I’m kinda freaking out. Please don’t let this be real. :frowning: :frowning: :frowning:

No clue about laws or anything but my guess is, unless you’re a salaried employee and/or have a contract with the company explicitly stating how many hours a week you get, they can pretty much do whatever they want. :frowning:

I have no idea if it’s legal or not but . . .

You’d rather management lay off a whack of people at your company and keep the remainder at 5 days/week than dial everyone back to 4 days a week so everyone keeps their jobs? Really? Are you THAT sure that you will be one of the ones kept, not one of the ones let go, in the 1st scenario? Because those are pretty much the only two likely options. If management is looking to reduce overhead, salaries are the fastest way to do it and if they are trying not to kick 20% of the staff to the curb, salary reductions are the only option.

Today is the second of four unpaid leave days for all Washington state employees. I believe it was voted upon by the employees, but I could be wrong.

When it happened at work everybody found out that they were working four days a week and bringing home what they would have had they been laid off staying home. People were much happier when layoffs came and they rotated employees. You earned more take home in the end over a bad year with rotating layoffs. They also didn’t have to seek employment because they would be back in a certain amount of time.

They pick a one day layoff, because any less and the employees would find they could claim unemployment and collect some money for the reduced hours worked. The company would then eventually pay more into the unemployment fund.

Isn’t that what a furlough is? I think whether it’s legal or not depends on the state and type of employment or contract. My husband is a state worker and they are still discussing the possibility of a mandatory two-week furlough.

I’d rather take unpaid time off than have employees laid off from my company.

It’s definately legal where I am. My brother has to take several days unpaid this year, and he’s the manager of his department at the county courthouse. The only other option was to RIF people and no one wanted to do that.

Even if you need to take a few days unpaid during the year (I think the number for my brother is 10), it shouldn’t cause you to need to take a second job unless you’re already living above what you can afford.

For a couple of years after the end of the tech bubble my company had an unpaid mandatory time off during July 4 week. Most people have enough vacation to make this not an issue. It was actually good, since your email didn’t pile up. A few people on critical jobs stayed. We’re all over the country, and I don’t recall any messages about this not happening in certain states.

My son’s company just told 80% of the force that they could only work 32 hours a week. Same thing?

The factory that I worked at many moons ago had a one week layoff every year.

The hospital that I worked at recently, also had rotating layoffs in the dept I worked in.

The client I support is doing it and it’s being done all over. Yes, they could just lay people off, but what if that “people” is YOU??? Employers are trying to do right by their employees by not putting anyone out on the street.

I have to join everyone else in saying I’d rather this than being layed off or fired completely. If they can give you a steady time of not working, at least you can make plans with that.

Many employees of the state of California are currently taking every other Friday off without pay, as ordered by the governor.

His authority to do this was disputed, but a court case was recently settled in his favor. Right now they’re in court again arguing over an attempt to expand the mandatory furloughs to still more state employees.

San Jose Mercury News article about it here. In principle, this is a short-term measure taken while the legislature tries to get a budget passed.

Heh. As the “primary chat representative” I can safely say that I would not be in the first group to be laid off if it came to that here, and I would still rather take a 1 day/week pay cut than a every day of the week pay cut.

My then-company did this in 1991. I was glad not to be laid off; I was the main breadwinner of the house at the time, and while 4 days a week hurt the budget, it was way better than unemployment. They also asked the union force for volunteers for layoff and got several takers. It helped us survive.

I wish that had been an option for me - I was one of the ones laid off. 16 months ago. I’m still scrambling to keep a roof overhead and food on the table.

Gannett has put this into place recently. Their employees (well, the ones they have left) have to take a week furlough sometime this year.

A lot of companies are doing this. Yes, its legal (at least in most states). Why they do it - because laying people off and hiring them back is very expensive. If they expect that they just need to get through a short term downturn, a cutback in hours is a better idea.

In my industry, some companies are laying people off, one is closing down it’s factories for 3 weeks next month, some are requiring employees to use up vacation time, or take unpaid leave, and at one, all employees are taking a 10% temporary paycut, with no extra time off.

It seems that the companies that are going with unpaid days off are doing so with the plan that there is a turn around coming. They are trying to keep their employees employed, as well as having those employee and their skills around when things get busy again.

Do they allow you to use vacation/personal time off to offset the pay cut? Or by “unpaid leave” do you mean you can’t even take vacation time?

For the last few years, my company (a large software firm) has been shutting down all operations except for sales during the last week of the year (in Asia, during Chinese New Year). They actually force us to use PTO hours - if we’re out, they bank it to us and draw it down later.

I quite like this arrangement since I am perpetually maxing out my available PTO - I don’t take a whole lot of time off, and it lets me burn through a few hours. I know a lot of folks who are always low on PTO who don’t like this, but I think it positioned us quite nicely to get our cost reduction efforts out in front of the downturn.