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Can we require riffed employees to sign a release before they receive severance pay?


Q. Under our company policy, employees who are terminated because of a reduction in force are entitled to severance pay. Can we require them to execute a release in order to receive severance pay?

Texas employers: Expect spike in unemployment taxes in ’10


Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken of Dallas recently announced that Texas employers should expect their unemployment insurance taxes to rise significantly next year. Pauken said the increase in layoffs is close to exhausting a state trust fund.

12 tips to help employees handle the stress of tough times


Layoffs, pay cuts and an uncertain economy have left many organizations with fewer employees to do the work—often for the same or less money. Not all of those employees are handling it well. Here are a dozen ways you can deal with economy-induced employee stress and help your employees focus on their work:

Keep superstars on board with sabbaticals—even during tough times


During a time of layoffs and budget cuts, you might not think a lot of organizations would be encouraging their employees to take lengthy sabbaticals—or that employees would feel secure enough to accept the offer. Yet six-week to six-month job pauses remain as common as ever. There are good reasons why the sabbatical is enduring even as other benefits become expendable.

Reduced hours and WARN: Are we liable?


Q. Due to the poor economy, we recently cut one of our manufacturing shift’s hours by 60%. This will continue indefinitely. We gave the affected employees two weeks’ advance notice, but we have now received a letter from an attorney claiming we should have given them 60 days’ advance notice. Is that right?

Counter bias claims with complete records


These are tough economic times, and employers can’t be blamed for cost-cutting measures such as reductions in force. But before you act to trim your labor burden, prepare solid evidence showing exactly why you must cut those costs. You need a clear, written record, since those who participated in the decision-making may not be around to testify if the layoffs are challenged in lawsuits.

Control costs with furlough strategy that’s flexible, fair


If your organization is limping through the economic downturn, you’ve no doubt considered cutting down your labor burden to save money. Before you resort to radical surgery—in the form of layoffs—consider a more benign cure that increases the odds of a full recovery. Furloughs—requiring staff to take unpaid time off—can reduce payroll costs without inflicting long-term damage.

Most employers are finished with recession-related cuts


A new Watson Wyatt survey found that 52% of employers have made layoffs (up from 39% two months earlier), but the percentage of companies planning layoffs fell from 23% to 13%.

Study: Layoffs harm health of those who conduct them


Don’t expect a lot of sympathy from laid-off workers, but a decade-long study says people who conduct layoffs suffer from a higher rate of ulcers, sleep problems and heart trouble.

New COBRA subsidy available in cases of ‘involuntary termination’: What does that mean?


Under the massive new federal economic stimulus law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), employees who suffer an “involuntary termination” have to pay just 35% of the cost of COBRA continuation health care coverage. But what does “involuntary termination” mean?