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Workplace Trend: Cutting Hours Not Jobs

Small businesses and large companies have been following the same savings strategies lately. Slower business conditions reduced the hours of 2.8 million workers in 2007, up nine percent from the previous year. The "slack work conditions" are another sign of our slowing economy and weakening job market.

Why not just rip the Band-Aid off and fire people? It's been more cost effective for them to cut hours to less than 35 hours per week than to get rid of jobs altogether. Layoffs are expensive and companies are being cautious in losing specially trained employees.

Have your hours been cut recently because of slower business?


Join The Conversation
nancita nancita 9 years
I guess it depends on the company and the employees. I wish more companies would at least try cutting back hours first. They might find that some workers would prefer to work fewer hours, as opposed to just firing a lot of people outright. Then if no one wanted to voluntarily cut down, the company could resort to job cuts.
cassedy04 cassedy04 9 years
this would happen all the time when i worked in a clothing store - they'd cut the hours, then people would need the money so they'd quit anyway and the company would be back at square one. sometimes employers lose sight of what's best for the greater good.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
My hours haven't been cut, but working overtime is strictly prohibited now.
nola45 nola45 9 years
I was working on a contract basis on projects as they arose. My office was downsizing regular employees (acronym for "letting them go"), and it was a bit wierd that they kept using my services at the same time. But they had lost the expertise I had, and had no strings attached employing me. But work slowed, and finally I terminated the work myself because no enough was coming my way. Hiring contractors rather than regular employees (and not giving them benefits) can be illegal in many situations and deprives folks who need those benefits of real jobs. It is something that we need to be vigilant about! At many colleges, more than 50% of courses are taught by contractors ("adjuncts") who teach one or two courses per semester (for less than $2,000 per course). This is a travesty because the quality of teaching has declined significantly, and ultimately well qualified people won't be able to afford to have a career in college and university teaching.
LaLaLaurie06 LaLaLaurie06 9 years
When I worked in retail, hours were constantly being cut to make payroll. And then after they'd cut a bunch of people, they'd realize that they were short-staffed and they'd have to call people in to work anyway. I haven't found this to be the case anywhere else.
Marci Marci 9 years
I think anything that can be done to keep jobs is worth a try. But I can't say I see a softening in the job market, and I'm looking for work right now so I think I'd notice that.
TenaciousE17 TenaciousE17 9 years
I had both happen last October. My husband and I worked for the same company and he was laid off and my hours were reduced. At first I thought it was better because at least I still had my job but after a few months and some calculations I was making less than I made 5 years ago when I started and was losing an entire rent payment a month just from my income loss alone. They just recently put me on temporary 40 hours while I'm working on a big project, but I still lost most of my benefits because I've been considered a part-time employee even though it's still 32 hours a week. My life insurance is half, my vacation and sick time accrue at half the time and my health insurance costs more. At this point it probably would've been better for me to get out then and get another job.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I'm lucky, when we have slow weeks my boss tells me to enjoy it and catch up on whatever I can. (she knows I don't have ANYTHING to do) Some weeks can be soooo busy though, I couldn't deal with not having a litle break in between busy times.
Segat1 Segat1 9 years
Six employees went just before Christmas :(
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
Cutting hours would not be the end of the world. I understand that many people get paid by the hour, but Americans are sickeningly work-obsessed compared with those in many other countries of the same economic status. I think it would benefit most people to stop and smell the roses once in awhile whether it's by choice or imposed.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I hate it when big companies that have tons of money cut hours not jobs. My husbands works for a major retailer and after Christmas they end up getting 10-20 hours per week instead of getting rid of seasonal employees. They end up having workers who have no idea what they are doing getting the same number of hours as employees who've worked there for 4 years like my husbands.
michelleannette michelleannette 9 years
i have 32 employees who work for me and slow times do come up. during this time, i cannot possibly keep everyone on a 40 hour week because business demands are low. i try to prepare all new employees by communicating clearly in the interview process that there are some seasons we simply do not need as many people here. it's a hard situation to be in, and i care about my employees...but, this is business.
mswindang mswindang 9 years
actually this is just a perfect topic for me to discuss on. i am in such quandary on cutting off the hours of one of my employees or just ask him to not come to work on sundays (he works on sundays). if i ask him not to come its a huge chunk off of his paycheck and i feel bad for doing that but we don't really need him around on sundays since its a slow day. i can probably ask him to just come a few hours but not like the regular hours he used to. i don't know. i'm stumped. help?
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