Pay Cuts Spreading As Economy Worsens

Early Show - Laura Jaquinto - Feb. 26, 2009 CBS

We hear almost daily about companies cutting jobs as the recession deepens, but another kind of cut is being used more and more to help save jobs: a pay cut.

A growing number of companies and government agencies are reducing workers' pay -- sometimes drastically -- rather than trimming payrolls, CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on The Early Show. Others are turning to furloughs -- forced, unpaid time off.

"Companies are trying all sorts of new things to not actually cut heads at this time," BusinessWeek Senior Writer Michelle Conlin told Solorzano.

Pay cuts are catching on in different industries around the country. Companies such as Federal Express, Scripps Media, Hewlett-Packard, Ford and General Motors are among those going down that road.

Pilots at many major airlines are feeling the pay pinch too. Even Money magazine Senior Writer Donna Rosato told co-anchor Harry Smith on The Early Show that a pay cut doesn't have to be the end of the story.

"One of the things you might think about doing," Rosato says, "is talking to your employer and saying, 'OK, I'm taking a pay cut. Is there something I can do to make this work for me, as well? I'm taking a pay cut. Maybe can I work a few less hours so I could maybe work part-time or pick up something on the side?' So, I would be careful. We should all be glad to have jobs these days, of course, but if you're going to take a cut in pay, see if you can negotiate a corresponding cut in hours that can give you some time to allow you to pick up some side work."

Having a strategy can help, she says, adding, "People know when their company's in trouble. You may go to your company and suggest, say, 'I know things are bad,' and you may think that they're going to cut your pay or maybe they think about laying you off. If you offer to take a pay cut or reduction in hours, one of the things you can offer to do is perhaps take some of your compensation in bonus. So that's a way for you to reduce maybe not your base salary, but the overall cost. And that could be a negotiating point, as well."

Rosato suggests trying to "reinvent" yourself if you see the writing on the wall about a possible job loss, pay cut, or reduction in hours. If you're furloughed, "You may be out of work for a week or two. Make the most of that time to ... update your resume, maybe take some training courses, network with people, find out what other opportunities are out there."

You could also try to make yourself indispensable to your employer. "It may feel like you're not indispensable when they're cutting your pay," Rosato acknowledges, "but this is also an opportunity, when times are tough, it's better than being laid off. And because they have fewer people, this is the time you want to take on more responsibility at work. And because there are fewer people on the job, you can make yourself more indispensable."
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