Vendors aim holiday uptake at economic slowdown

As belt-tightening in the tech sector spurs a number of large IT vendors towards enforcing holiday leave, local offshoots are tailoring their cost-cutting efforts with a customer-centric approach.

Pre-empting less-than-spectacular financial results, Sun Microsystems announced in April that it would be shutting up shop for a week in an effort to preserve the jobs of its 43,000 staff. While the US operations have targetted a nationwide closure in the first week of July, local Sun operations will instead stagger its enforced leave over the next few months, so as to ensure its customers have constant access to services.

Sun's move is being echoed by the likes of Adobe and Compaq. The latter companies, however, are not forcing employees into taking the week off, but are instead making it an "option" in an attempt to sidestep Californian laws which could require companies to pay overtime to employees during mandatory leave.

Locally, Adobe operations will be unaffected by the US move. Compaq, however, will be encouraging staff to take five days of accrued leave before September, staggering the enforced leave over a longer period in a similar fashion to Sun's local approach.

Hewlett-Packard is also asking its employees to take eight days off before the end of the company's fiscal year in October, as opposed to having a blanket vacation period for the entire company. HP employees are also being offered a number of other options, including a 10 per cent pay cut, or four days off with a 5 per cent pay cut, with the catch-22 being that employees must have annual leave accrued to use the vacation option.

In addition, HP is also cutting back on travel, mobile phone and executive car allowance costs.

Adrian Weiss, HP Australia's marketing communications manager, said customers will not be affected by company-wide closures.

HP also differs from the other vendors in that it is applying the same cost-cutting measure globally. Weiss said the move is a worldwide decision that affects all HP employees, but highlighted that the options being offered are fairly similar worldwide, with some slight variants depending on local laws.

The common denominator on the US scene is that all companies are capitalising on the slower Independence Day period. Jordan Reizes, Australia and NZ marketing manager of Adobe, highlighted that the company specifically planned the shutdown to coincide with the holiday.

"Adobe made a decision that it would be in the best interests of the company, from a balance sheet perspective, to try and clear out leave, and ensured that the company took such a slow period off," he said.

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