Friday, January 23, 2009

Wachovia-Wells Fargo situation: does it set an important example for "family leave"? What about contractors?

The acquisition of troubled Wachovia Bank by Wells Fargo may put its progressive family leave program at risk, according to WorkForce Management.

The story is here.

The plan allowed employees up to three years unpaid personal leave, while “staying in the fold” although it did not promise the old jobs back. It was used by new mothers or parents, and sometimes by people with longlasting eldercare responsibilities.

Another related controversy would the jobs of reservists or National Guard people returning from active duty, particularly if Barack Obama is able to keep his promise of a withdrawal from Iraq in 16 months.

Other western countries have paid family leave, and many observers feel that the unpaid leave provisions of the 1993 FMLA are ineffective in practice.

But companies tend to be unable to paid for unworked time during downturns, and it means that working employees are paid less.

Wells Fargo has said informally that it will try to keep the plan.

Since short term contracts are so common in information technology, it’s not so clear that this situation sets a major example for IT as a whole.

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