Saturday, April 04, 2009


Furloughs meant one thing to these three World War II veterans.And a whole different thing to these folks.

Kathleen O'Dell, of the SN-L, writes:

As the economic downturn continues, some area businesses are trying to avoid permanent layoffs by asking employees to take unpaid "furloughs" -- time off without pay.

These temporary layoffs amount to one-time pay cuts for workers and a cost savings for employers. What furloughed employees may not know is that they likely are eligible for unemployment.

Most recently, Springfield television station KYTV announced Tuesday it would ask all full-time employees to voluntarily take a week off without pay by June 30, said Mike Scott, president and general manager of the station.

KYTV is first asking for volunteers in hopes of avoiding mandatory furloughs or layoffs, Scott said.

"Obviously there's a slowdown and we feel that this is the best way to address it," he said. "We're all looking at our business more closely today and seeing where money can be saved. We've certainly seen a slowdown, but it's not so significant that we have to have layoffs or mandatory time off for our employees."

Scott couldn't say whether the furloughs might become mandatory if not enough employees volunteer for the time off.

"That's certainly not in our plans at this time," he said. "We're making adjustments as we see fit. Our goal is not to have layoffs or terminations. We're trying to be as flexible as we can to prevent that."

Last week, all Springfield News-Leader employees were told they would have to take a week's worth of unpaid time off by June 30. News-Leader employees also had a mandatory week furlough during the first quarter of 2009. Officials with parent company Gannett said they opted for furloughs to avoid another round of employee voluntary and mandatory layoffs that occurred in late 2008.

The length of these furloughs varies across industries, and some employees are required to take consecutive days off while others can take them a day at a time.

But even though it's short-term, or periodic, a "furlough" is still a layoff in the eyes of the state, and qualified employees can draw unemployment, said Gracia Backer, director of the Division of Employment Security

Here are some guidelines.

Anyone can apply for unemployment, and eligibility is based on whether the worker became unemployed through no fault of his own.

Next, Missouri law requires a one-week waiting period when filing for unemployment compensation before benefits can begin.

If you, the worker, take a week furlough as five consecutive days, that week counts as your one-week waiting period in the event you have another furlough period or you're laid off permanently in the future. You must file for unemployment during that week in order for that week to count as your waiting period week.

However, if you take five days spaced out over several weeks instead of consecutively, those days cannot be counted as the one-week waiting period, Backer said.

To illustrate: A plumber is laid off for a week, files unemployment and if he qualifies, that becomes his "waiting week." He does not get paid unemployment for that week.

Then he's called back to work for three weeks, but then is laid off for two more weeks. Since he already completed his waiting week, he files again for unemployment and begins collecting unemployment by fulfilling required weekly reporting.

"It's good to get that waiting week out of the way," Backer said.

One catch: It may not be better for everyone to take five consecutive days, she added. It all depends on your salary and wage base. Some people who take one day every week for five weeks may actually come out ahead, she said.

She advises workers to do the math before they made a decision. Their salary for working only four days in a week might exceed the normal unemployment benefit they would get for five days off work.

"Employment insurance is not cookie-cutter," Backer said. "Every situation is unique. But anyone can file a claim, and if in doubt, file a claim."

1 comment:

Sara said...

This is pretty much what Daniel's work is doing to him.