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Your Employer Cut Back Your Hours. Now What?

Your Employer Cut Back Your Hours. Now What?

Eve Tahmincioglu | CareerDiva

I’ve been hearing about a growing number of workers having their hours cut back at a moment’s notice.

Telemarketers suddenly being told not to come in for a few days. Housekeepers at hotels and country clubs being told to leave half way through their shifts.

It’s all part of the economic squeeze. Since employee paychecks are the biggest chunk of an employer’s expenses, some firms tend to take a machete out when they realize they’re loosing money, and unfortunately it’s workers who end up loosing their heads.

The numbers from the government also show a slow decline in hours. This from a recent CNNMoney.com article:

"In another sign of weakness, the average hourly work week slipped by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours. And a modest 3-cent gain in the average hourly salary, combined with the shorter week, means that the average weekly paycheck fell by 81 cents to $610.51. Both the work week and hourly wage gains were weaker than forecasts.

“Incomes being crimped will feed back to weaken spending. And that will feed back into more job losses,” said Robert Brusca of FAO Economics. “It is vicious circle time.

“The combination of the smaller payrolls and the shorter work week means that the total hours worked by all private sector employees declined for the sixth straight month.”

There’s probably nothing as disturbing as suddenly seeing your paycheck cut while you’re still employed by the same company, but it’s time for calmer heads to prevail.

First off, you may be entitled to unemployment insurance. If you were working full time for an employer and your hours were cut back, you may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits. Call your local Department of Labor to find out.

Secondly, you need to be proactive.

Don’t just walk out like a zombie if your boss says go home now. Take a moment to sit down with your supervisor. Wait until he or she isn’t busy and ask to speak with them. But make sure not to come off as angry or panicked, says Annemarie Segaric, a career coach and author of the forthcoming book, Step into the Right Career: 107 Tips to Change Your Life While Still Paying.

“See what you’re able to work out,” she advises. Maybe you can change your days to Monday through Wednesday, giving you time to get another part-time job to fill the money void.

Or maybe your manager has hours available during the graveyard shift, or on the weekends, and never thought you’d be open to odd hours.

“Don’t become defensive,” she stresses, “just say, ‘what can we do to work together. Are there options for me to increase my hours so you’re still meeting your bottom line?’”

There may also be opportunities at your company for career advancement, she adds, like a manager training program. “We tend to think, ‘no hours, no money’ but there are different budgets for different things,” she explains.

If there are just no opportunities for more hours or additional training or advancement where you work, Michelle Moylan, HR Specialist with CheckPoint HR, offers these tips:

1. Update resumes immediately, do not wait!
2. Get out and network. Utilize sites like LinkedIn and join industry groups. Attend MeetUps in your city or local area.
3. Take classes in spare time to make yourself more marketable; also look at professional certifications that may help you in your industry
4. Online training courses (cost-effective method for further educating employees and improving skill sets to accommodate business needs).
5. Reach out to headhunters and agencies now…be proactive and get all burners cooking.

It seems overwhelming to think right now about turning on more burners in your life, and I don’t blame you. But with the economy under pressure, it’s not a good idea to let too much time pass because you’re upset a boss cut back your hours. Take a day or two to bitch about it and then get the fire raging under your job butt.

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