From the Sunday Times:

CAN I TAKE A PAY CUT, PLEASE, BOSS?

Irish workers are increasingly ready to save their jobs through lower salaries, says Gabrielle Monaghan.

The now-common refrain, “You’re lucky to have a job” is some comfort to those fortunate enough to escape redundancy. But it’s not all plain sailing for professionals who have held on to their jobs, as nervous employers introduce pay cuts, three-day working weeks and unpaid leave to stave off the need for lay-offs.

About 13% of workers in Ireland have had their working hours reduced and 15% have taken a pay cut, been made redundant or have not had their contract renewed according to a survey released last month by the insurance firm Standard Life.

… The number of official redundancies notified to the Department of Enterprise Trade & Employment soared by 57% to 37,300 in the year to November. Last month, the Economic & Social Research Institute predicted that the number of people in employment will slump by 117,000 this year [out of a workforce of 2.2 million at the beginning of 2008], putting the jobless rate at an average of 9.4%.

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, said he and the airline’s executives would trim their pay by at least 10% because of a fall in profits.
He also asked 400 pilots and cabin crew to take a week of unpaid leave after the airline cuts back flights between Dublin and Stansted.

… Workers are slowly realising that employers need to spread the pain if job losses are to be avoided. Rowan Manahan, author of the career guide Where’s My Oasis? and MD of Fortify Services, a careers advice firm, said, “We would all like to feel that there are altruistic reasons behind these measures – that I’m taking a pay cut so Doris in Accounts can keep her job – but we all know that management’s first responsibility is to produce a fair return for shareholders. The pendulum has swung back to employers. They can offer terms of employment that would have seemed laughably unpleasant a year ago.” This could include longer hours for less pay, he says.

“Companies won’t be able to flagrantly flout the Working Time Directive, but they can make life difficult if they are not happy with you – and that can include pressuring you to work 60 hours a week when you usually only work 40,” said Manahan. “You are going to have to ensure that you have a support network around you and that you don’t allow the screw-tightening to stress you out too much.”

… Bonuses are becoming a thing of the past too, says Manahan. HR experts say job-hunters lucky enough to secure a position this year are more likely to be offered contract or temporary jobs instead of a permanent position.

“While employees and job candidates will be given the illusion that they have no control over these situations, they still have some power,” said Manahan. “The most important thing right now is to ensure that you are attached to work that your organisation deems important, regardless of whether it is the project-from-hell. You can’t afford to be choosy, so recognise what adds real value to your organisation and its survival and get involved.”

Full article on the Sunday Times website here.