Unpaid leave – the fight for survival: can employees afford to do it?

National recruitment and business services group, HR GO plc, asked just this question via a web survey in which almost 670 took part. 61% revealed they would not take a month’s unpaid leave if their company asked them to do so.

In the tough times of 2009 where companies embarked on major pay cutbacks and large scale redundancies, many businesses were throwing out a lifeline to their employees in a bid to prevent job losses.

“Unpaid leave” was a cost-cutting strategy that many businesses implemented in an attempt to get them through the tough times. Employers appealed to their staff to volunteer for even just one day per month unpaid leave to help them survive and reduce the amount of redundancies they may be forced to make.

British Airways (BA) did this in June last year where they sent out a communication to 30,000 workers asking them to volunteer for one week to one month’s unpaid leave. Leading by example, the BA Chief Executive forfeited his July monthly salary of £61,000! This scheme attracted over 1,000 applications but could the employees afford to do it?

“While some options may seem unattractive, particularly where they involve reduced income, many employees will conclude that the alternative of losing their job looks bleaker,” said Mike Emmott of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in 2009.

However, we are seeing encouraging signs for a more optimistic economic climate in the job market in 2010.  COA Solutions, a UK business management and information systems provider, revealed that 51% of senior human resource (HR) professionals surveyed do intend to increase the overall size of their workforces by the end of 2010.

Recruitment Group, HR GO plc, has seen a 13% increase in temporary placements in the last quarter of 2009 against the same period in 2008.

HR GO plc is one of the top 65 recruitment companies in the UK. The business turns over around £70 million and employs 360 permanent staff and over 4000 contract personnel nationally.

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