HR Memo from a Small Island*

Unemployment in the UK for the period September to November 2008 reached its highest level in the past 10 years – at 6.2% with approximately 1.92 million people unemployed – and expectations are that the number will continue to rise in the coming months as the numerous redundancies that have been unannounced recently including more than 27,000 jobs as high street retailer Woolworths has recently closed its doors.

Of course, tough times often see some very creative solutions. At Top 4 consulting and audit firm  KPMG, employees have been asked to sign up to a new (voluntary) programme where they elect to -

Work a 4 day week for 80% of salary; or
Taking a 3 month sabbatical at one third of salary.

They have three weeks within which to make up their minds. The programme is designed to cut costs while retaining staff so that the firm is not left understaffed when the economy improves, and it has been proposed to partners of the firm who are not expected to volunteer en masse.

Perhaps KPMG could follow in the footsteps of the new president of the United States of America - Barack Obama today announced that there would be an immediate pay freeze for top executives at The White House.

* With apologies to Bill Bryson.

Sources: The Financial Times 2009, BBC News 2009