Furloughs: The Vacation You Never Wanted

How to spend your forced time out of the office productively.

ByABC News
September 9, 2008, 6:15 PM

April 9, 2009 — -- From government agencies and auto makers to newspapers and the NFL, it seems no organization is immune to furloughs these days.

Even fictional reporter Brenda Starr recently got word from her comic-strip boss, B. Babbitt Bottomline, that she has been furloughed until further notice.

With the increasing likelihood that these mandatory unpaid days off may be coming soon to a cubicle near you (or worse yet, the one you're sitting in), is there anything you should do to prepare, besides saving your pennies in anticipation of those lost paychecks and the potential financial hardships?

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In other words, should you take this as your cue to dust off the old resume and hit the nearest career fair? Or should you throw economic caution to the wind, treat your furlough as an unpaid vacation and catch up on your sleep and soap opera viewing?

Forty-two percent of working dads and 34 percent of working moms would take a pay cut of 10 percent or more if it meant they could spend extra time with their kids, according to a pair of CareerBuilder surveys conducted between mid-February and mid-March of 2008.

(If anyone had bothered to ask non-parents whether they'd be willing to swap 10 percent of their pay for more time off, I suspect that a sizable percentage would also have said, "Hell, yeah!")

But what about in 2009, the year of the seemingly bottomless recession? Are workers who've been forced to take an unpaid leave of five, 10, even 15-plus days embracing their unplanned vacations with all the gusto of a school kid on spring break?

Apparently so.

"With my days off, I did not want to think about work," said an advertising sales manager at a newspaper in Madison, Wis., who declined to give his name for this article. "I really did not consider updating my resume or looking at other career paths. I wanted to have those days as an escape."