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Hays Tough Choices Survey 2009

Tough choices – seven in ten companies change the pay and conditions of their staff in face of the recession

A major new survey shows that 70 per cent of companies in Ireland have changed their employees’ pay and conditions or are planning to do so, in light of the recession.

The “Tough Choices” research by Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people, found that 39 per cent of companies have already changed staff pay and conditions in order to save costs and a further 31 per cent are intending to.

Hays surveyed 608 employers and 853 employees from around the country in September 2009 for this research.

“These findings are very much backed up by what we are hearing from our clients on a weekly basis,” says Richard Eardley, Managing Director of Hays in Ireland. “For example, we have qualified accountants reporting 20 per cent salary reductions, as both basic pay and bonuses have been cut and architectural companies who are now operating on three day weeks. “

The survey also asked employers and employees nationwide for their opinions on the best way to save staff costs in their companies in the face of the recession. Both employers and workers agree that cutting discretionary bonuses should be the first port of call in saving costs.

However, they differ widely in relation to targeting pay. Employers cite pay cuts as the second best option for reducing staff costs, while this is the second least favoured option for employees.

“This situation is reflected in the debates that we are already seeing between employee representatives and employer bodies over the best way of implementing cost cutting measures in the workplace,” commented Richard Eardley.

“There is broad agreement from both sides on less contentious issues, like cutting bonuses, benefits and even pension contributions as methods of reducing costs,” he continued. “But there is a real divide on where pay and job cuts should occur. Unsurprisingly, most employees favour the targeting of higher earners only, with employers favouring across the board reductions.”

In relation to compulsory redundancies, the groups are again divided with seven in ten employees against this method of saving staff costs compared to only 48 per cent of employers being against it.

The Hays research also shows that the option of voluntary redundancies may be ineffective in cutting staff costs. While 87 per cent of employees believed that offering voluntary redundancies is the best option open to management when attempting to save costs, two-thirds of employees say they would not take voluntary redundancy if offered it.

“The findings should send out a warning signal to any company which opts for voluntary redundancy as a payroll cost cutting measure – our survey would suggest employers may not get the up-take that they need,” says Richard Eardley.

Both employers and employees agree however, that lower level staff should not be unduly targeted for either pay or job cuts.

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For more press information or to set up an interview contact Stephen Flanagan on 01 661 2772. Please find below a list of press releases published in relating to the findings:


Irish Independent - 16 October 2009

SIPTU chief refuses to take reduction in €124,000 salary

Cork Independent - 16 October 2009

Cork businesses cutting pay to face recession

Hearld AM - 16 October 2009

70pc of Dublin workers suffering

Galway City Tribune - 23 October 2009

Almost three-quarters of city firms to impose cuts in pay

Limerick Leader - 24 October 2009

SMEs are urged to enter business award scheme

Limerick Independent - 28th October 2009

Limerick firms change pay rates, conditions


FM 104's 9 o'clock news - 16 October 2009

Bonuses should be the first thing to go

Highland FM 8.30 news - 16 October 2009

7 out of 10 employers have restructured terms and conditions in face of recesssion

Newstalk 7am news - 16 October 2009

2 in 5 firms have made changes to employees' terms and conditions in order to reduce costs

Today FM 9am news - 16 October 2009

70% of companies in Ireland have changed their employees paying conditions

Limerick 95 FM's Limerick Today - 2 November 2009

Bobby O'Connor, the Manager of Hays Recruitment in Limerick talks about "tough choices" in Limerick.

Cork 96 - 9am news - 16 October 2009

7 out of 10 companies in Cork have restructured terms and conditions of employment for staff in the face of the ongoing recession

Limerick FM 5pm news - 29 October 2009

Two thirds of employees in businesses in Limerick are being subjected to wage reductions

Limerick Live 5pm news - 29 October 2009

Two thirds of employees in businesses in Limerick are being subjected to wage reductions


About Hays:

Hays Ireland is part of Hays plc (the "Group"), the leading global specialist recruiting group. Hays plc (the "Group") is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. It operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

The Group employs 6,933 staff operating from 345 offices in 28 countries across 17 specialisms.

For the year ended 30 June 2009:

  • The Group had revenues of £2.4 billion, net fees of £670.8 million and operating profit of £158.0 million.

  • The Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 270,000 people into temporary assignments.

  • The temporary placement business represented 56% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 44% of net fees.