Sectoral and gender differences in staffing and pay cuts

An employee survey published by the Institute of Economic and Social Research indicates that staffing reductions and modifications to pay and employment conditions varied according to sector and – due to job and sectoral segregation – by gender. Female-dominated services sectors were less affected by staff and pay cuts than male-dominated industries. On average, 72% of respondents stated that the company management had made use of staffing reduction measures.

The German WageIndicator Project (DE0508201N) at the Institute of Economic and Social Research (Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut, WSI) introduced questions to the project’s online salary check. The questions asked about the economic performance of the respondents’ employer, any staffing measures taken by management, and any modifications to pay and employment conditions. An analysis of some 10,000 responses collected between August and December 2009 reveals that individual employees have had very different experiences of the economic recession depending on the sector in which they work. The experiences of men and women differed with regard to staff reductions, working conditions and pay cuts.

Sectoral effects

On average, 38% of respondents stated that the economic situation of their employer had worsened since the beginning of 2009 (Table 1). Metalworkers and chemical workers were hardest hit. Respondents working in the education sector were least affected. Overall, 41% of respondents noted a staff decrease. Whereas the workforce reductions in the metal and chemical industries were clearly linked to a deterioration in the business situation, respondents from the financial intermediation sector indicated a strong decrease in the number of employees even though economic prospects were considered to be comparatively good. In information technology (IT) and communication, hotels and restaurants, health and social work, and food processing, considerably more respondents noted a staff decrease than a worsening of the economic situation.

Table 1: Staff decrease and economic position of company (% of respondents)
 

Decrease in employee numbers

Economic position worse than in 2008

Economic position unchanged

Economic position improved

Whole economy

41

38

44

18

Metalworking and electrical

67

65

21

14

Chemical

53

43

31

26

Financial intermediation

47

28

46

26

IT and communication

46

36

45

19

Hotels and restaurants

45

31

50

19

Food processing

41

29

50

21

Commerce

39

36

43

21

Public administration

33

28

63

8

Health and social work

32

23

60

17

Accountancy and consulting

31

36

45

20

Construction

24

27

52

21

Education

19

24

60

16

Source: WSI report No. 2, Düsseldorf, March 2010, pp. 3–4

Staffing reduction measures

Overall, 72% of the respondents indicated that the company management had made use of some staffing reduction measures in 2009 (Table 2). Most companies (40%) used the option of not filling vacant posts and of letting fixed-term employment contracts expire (32%); however, measures differed according to sector. The metalworking industry prioritised short-time working and the termination of temporary agency work, whereas crisis-hit companies in the financial intermediation sector were more likely to leave vacancies unfilled and arrange for voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

Table 2: Staffing reduction measures, by economic position (% of respondents)

Measures

All companies according to economic position

Whole economy

Companies in worse economic position

Worse Unchanged Improving   Metal/electrical industry Chemical industry Financial intermediation
Vacant posts not filled

57

33

31

40

62

59

75

Expiry of fixed-term contracts

48

26

23

32

63

64

56

Termination of agency work

36

19

13

22

71

56

32

Short-time working

35

16

8

19

73

54

6

Redundancy of core staff

30

15

9

18

34

33

18

Phased early retirement

24

16

16

17

37

44

41

Non-hiring of trainees on completion of training

23

13

13

16

23

43

34

Voluntary redundancy

19

11

8

13

26

30

48

No staffing measures taken

13

33

38

28

5

7

10

Source: WSI, 2010, pp. 5–6

Gender impact

An even percentage (38%) of male and female respondents stated that their employer’s position had worsened in 2009, but female-dominated services sectors were less affected by staff cuts than male-dominated industries. Fewer women (38%) than men (43%) reported a decrease in staff (Table 3).

Both genders experienced a reduction in remuneration (11% of all respondents); however, on average, women were less hit by pay cuts – probably because they were not as affected by a reduction in overtime work or by reductions in allowances and premiums more commonly paid in male-dominated professions and career positions. More women, however, stated that the workplace atmosphere had deteriorated in 2009 and that their opportunities to climb the promotion ladder had decreased.

Table 3: Impact of measures, by gender (% of respondents)
 

Men

Women

Company’s position has worsened

38

38

Workforce reductions

43

38

More pressure to perform

63

68

Workplace atmosphere has deteriorated

55

60

Less scope for promotion

46

51

Monthly income reduced

13

7

Christmas bonus reduced

11

10

Holiday bonus reduced

8

7

Profit-sharing and bonus payments reduced

17

9

Supplements, premium pay and allowances cut

11

6

Source: WSI, 2010, p. 8

Birgit Kraemer, Institute of Economic and Social Research, WSI

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