Employees Forgoing Telecommuting And Flextime

Employees Forgoing Telecommuting And Flextime

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
April 24, 2009

Employees fearful of losing their jobs are cutting back or avoiding flexible schedules and telecommuting.

The Los Angeles Times reports that according to workplace consultants, human resources specialists and employees, more workers are forgoing part-time or flextime arrangements, with some even giving up family leave and paid sick days.

Madeliene Arcega, who works as an office manager at a media company in New York, used to work two days a week from her home following her maternity leave. But when her company began laying off workers, she was given more responsibilities and told that she must be present in the office five days a week.

Arcega accepted the new conditions. "I was worried the alternative was no job at all," she explained.

Experts noted that employers are more likely to freeze salaries or resort to layoffs rather than granting flexibility to employees in order to save costs.

The Wall Street Journal reports that when Hillary Achauer requested part-time marketing work after her maternity leave from a San Diego nonprofit, she was offered a full-time management job instead. When she declined, she was given a less prestigious job and then was laid off in February. The person who took the full-time slot remained employed.

"When the going gets tough," she noted, employers sometimes think, "that person is only part-time, let's get rid of them."

The Wall Street Journal notes that this is not always the case. Some companies may view an efficient part-time worker or telecommuter as an asset, since ultimately such employees save money on real estate and office costs. In general, however, the number of employees working on flexible schedules declines during a recession.

"Most employers, when it comes to any initiative in human resources, have sort of hunkered down," said Paul Rupert, president of Rupert and Co., who advises companies on work-life initiatives and was quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "They're almost paralyzed because they don't know what's happening."

The National Law Journal reports that the unfortunate trend is being felt in law firms, which have been hit particularly hard during the economic downturn. With so many lawyers fearing layoffs, many have opted to forego perks such as reduced hours and sabbaticals. Associates are also complaining less and accepting whatever work is available, regardless of whether the tasks are challenging or not.

"My general sense is that the economy and the layoffs have impacted attorneys' willingness to ask for flexible work schedules," said a part-time attorney and working mother. "You want to be careful, bill as many hours as you can, and not be next on the list."

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