Blunting the Blow

April 06, 1991

Laying off workers involves pain, but employers can blunt the blow. In Howard County, Executive Charles I. Ecker is telling laid-off employees "we will provide severance pay for a while" by keeping them on the county payroll, "but we will be telling the employee that your job is to find a job."

After workers are laid off, they will be put on paid leave until July 1. They will have the luxury -- and it is a luxury in these times -- of looking for a job with a paycheck coming in and health benefits intact.

The county's employment and training center will provide copying services and job retraining. This represents a stark deviation from the typical scenario where employees have little time to search for another job before the money runs out.

Job reductions in Howard, originally pegged at about 200, may be far lower. Nonetheless, some county workers will lose their jobs. Howard has taken steps to minimize the pain, setting a pattern of compassion that should be followed by other jurisdictions.

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