Survey: Employees prefer pay cuts to avert layoffs

Worker demand drops 12.1% in January.

The majority of employees are willing to accept a pay cut to avert layoffs, according to a survey conducted against the backdrop of a deepening economic crisis and a growing decline in demand for workers. The survey of 500 respondents was conducted by Geocartography Knowledge Ltd. for placement agency Overseas Representation Services Ltd. (ORS). It found that 78.2 percent of respondents prefer their employer to implement an across-the-board salary cut instead of having to incur layoffs. At the same time, 12.4% of the respondents said they preferred limited layoffs to an across-the-board salary cut, while 9.4% of respondents did not have an opinion. "The data exemplifies a high degree of solidarity among Israeli workers, as well as identification with workers who have lost their jobs in the wave of layoffs hitting the economy in recent months," said Orna Landau, vice president business and organizational development at ORS. "Most Israeli workers are willing to accept a pay cut not to lose their jobs or for their colleagues to lose their jobs. This attitude is in contrast to the position taken up by many employers, who consider layoffs to be a key measure of their efficiency plan." However, despite the recent wave of layoffs, the survey found that 76.6% of salaried employees said they were not afraid about losing their jobs, while only 4.7% responded that they were very afraid of losing their jobs. The survey also found that the lower the education level of employees, the greater was their fear of losing their job: 30.7% of respondents with a high school education said they were afraid for their jobs, compared with 18.7% of university graduates. Men were more concerned about losing their jobs than women; 29.2% of male employees said they were afraid of losing their jobs, compared with 15.5% of females. The survey showed that among high earners with monthly salaries of over NIS 10,000, 14.5% preferred a pay cut to layoffs, compared with 9.4% among earners with monthly salaries of NIS 7,000. Meanwhile, the National Employment Service (NES) said Monday the demand for workers dropped 12.1% during January year-on-year. It attributed that, in part, to a worsening economic climate and the security situation in the South. "Without the impact of the southern region, the drop in demand for workers would have been less," the NES report said. According to NES figures published Monday, demand for workers in January fell 12.1% to 20,100, from 22,900 in January 2008. Demand for workers in January was 13.5% below the figure of 23,300 in December. Monthly averages for all of 2008 showed that demand for workers was fairly stable, in part because of the NIS's work with employers, the report said. Demand for workers averaged 22,300 per month last year. Almost half the demand for workers was for unskilled jobs. General manufacturing and construction workers were the most in demand.