Apple Cuts Back Paid Hours, Part-Timers Hit

December 28, 2008

Facing an uncertain 2009, and perhaps acknowledging poor December sales, Apple has reduced the number of paid hours for its retail store employees in the United States. Multiple sources say the cut-back will eliminate all hours for part-time employees, leaving only full-time staffers to handle sales and service at the stores some time in January. The part-time staff are not being laid off, sources say, and will remain on the payroll for recall if visitor traffic requires additional staffing. Retail analyst ShopperTrak RCT Corp. reported pre-Christmas visitor traffic at its member stores, which includes Apple, was down 23.7 percent compared to 2007, while sales were down 5.3 percent. ShopperTrak blamed much of the declines on winter weather across a large portion of the U.S. during the last weekend before Christmas. A typical mall-based Apple store staffs up to 40 part-time employees who work fewer than 20 hours per week. Like other businesses, the use of part-time workers reduces staffing costs because the employees have reduced or no benefits. The part-timers also allow companies to strategically staff-up for busy periods of the day or during the week.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

gmk December 28, 2008 at 1853

Given the current economic crisis it would be no surprise if Apple was affected negatively in some way. But remember that ShopperTrak surveys over 50,000 member retail stores (individual units), which would mean Apple Retail outlets would account for less than 1% of the total of all stores surveyed. While I doubt that Apple, like others, had a stellar December, from the stores I’ve been to over this retail season, I would find it difficult to believe Apple’s own statistics were down anywhere near the overall stats reported above. At least I hope. As far as the cutbacks in hours, we’ve seen this across the board in every area of the economy, so this is not a surprise.

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$#!+ December 29, 2008 at 0129

Thanks Steve and Co. Enjoy your oh-so-tough life while I struggle to find enough pennies to eat. I’ll be surprised if I survive 2009. And no, I’m not exaggerating. I feel like a fool for supporting Apple since pre-’84. Happy New year my ass!

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adam December 29, 2008 at 0700

@$#!+

With all due respect,
How is it that those of us who have supported Apple all along are somehow entitled to Apple supporting us through an economic downturn?

I was a Mac Genius for 2 years, and I have been a Mac user since ’84, and an Apple user since well before that. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work for this company, even in a mall (mall jobs all suck to some extent by their very nature). Apple takes very good care of its employees as compared to, oh just about any other non-union employer I’ve heard of. This is especially true in the retail sector. I spent a lot of years in retail and no retailer has more employee loyalty than Apple. Even so, when times are tough the company has a duty to shareholders to appropriately respond vis a vis expenses. I would be surprised if quite a few of the Apple stores in my area don’t either (1) bring part timers back when the needs dictate and/or (2) promote the best of the part time staff to full time where it makes sense in order to staff as needed – not a bad option. It has happened before, I have seen it.

Apple always cuts back dramatically on part time hours at this time of year, as does everyone. Large part time staff are typically only seen in the summer and holiday seasons. The fact that the cuts are deeper this year should be expected.

No, it’s not a Happy New Year, but then again I don’t hear you blaming the financial industry for loaning money that people could not possibly pay back. Nor is anyone throwing stones at the borrowers who allowed these companies to sell them debt they couldn’t afford. The economy sucks. We all have to deal with it.

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xairbusdriver December 29, 2008 at 0704

I don’t see how this has anything to do with Apple as opposed to retailing in general. Retailers have done this type thing for as long as I can remember (I’m 65, btw). ‘Holiday hiring’ has been the way people have looked to make extra money for countless years. I’ve never known any of them to expect to work for the rest of the year at it! That’s why they call it “Seasonal” for crying out loud. Is this typical ‘reporting’ from this site?!

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Current Part-time Specialist December 29, 2008 at 0821

I am a current part-time specialist at an Apple Retail store, and I have yet to hear any verification of this rumor. My hours have not yet been cut to zero. As in past years, good years in terms of the general economy, my schedule last week included more hours than my schedule this week. But my hours this week are in line with my hours on just about any other non-holiday, non-back-to-school week.

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DL December 29, 2008 at 1735

As a full-time Genius, this has yet to affect me… but I know a lot of part-timers at my store are livid with the reduction in hours (which is decidedly more severe than last year’s January cuts). Those staffers who worked 30 hours are down to 16, those who worked less than 30 are staffed at 12 hours or less. In some cases, we have staff with no hours at all (they’re still on the roster, but not scheduled for any shifts). It’s really sad actually, as 75-80% of our Specialists are part-timers and I’m great friends with all of them. The word from above is that full-timers can’t really be touched because Apple has to report changes to full-time staffing to Corporate/Wall Street, where a part-timer’s destiny ends at the Store manager.

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MS December 29, 2008 at 2249

Unfortunately your article is incorrect.
In fact, part time staff will remain, but only at their contracted hours (12, 20, 24, 30). No overtime will be permitted.

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adam December 30, 2008 at 0416

@DL

I don’t know how long you’ve been in retail, but welcome to retail. This is the way business works in a downturn. It’s not just retail, either. This is how all business works when hard times hit. Regardless of what gets reported to whom, one of the “silent benefits” of working full time is that your position will in most cases not be the first on the chopping block. Part time employees are the ones hired to fill in staffing gaps. When those gaps get closed up, for economic or any reasons, those staff are effected. Also, from a legal standpoint you have certain benefits that are not offered to part time staff as a consequence of your status. The law says that if you regularly work less than a set number of hours a week (usually 32) those benefits are no longer guaranteed. You cease being a FT employee with FT benefits and you become a PT employee. THAT is the reason that investors, etc… are informed. You position has effectively been eliminated at that time and replaced with a part time position that you fill.

Times are tough, it sucks, but it’s reality in the Big Bad World of Business. Part time jobs have effectively no job security beyond the current needs of the company.

At one time in my Genius career I worked at one of the most successful stores in the region. After Christmas our part time staff was hit by cutbacks exactly as you describe your friends experiencing, although it took a few more weeks. That was a good year for Apple, too. It’s the way retail business is done. I feel for you and your friends, but this is life.

BTW: Apple employees would do well to stop posting on forums like this. As a matter of contract if your identity is discovered you will be fired. I’ve seen it happen and you’d be amazed at what they can figre out from an innocuous post. Again, this isn’t just an Apple thing, it’s common practice in corporate America. Gripe to your friends, but don’t lose a job over it.

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