Research Reveals Employers Expect to Re-Hire 90% of Laid-Off Workers has released new survey data that shows 66% of employers either reduced their workforce or negatively impacted employee pay in response to COVID-19, though just 10% of survey respondents expect the layoffs to be permanent.

The survey revealed that 32% of employers laid off people (temporary or permanent), 10% saw a reduction in base pay, and 21% reduced variable pay (including bonuses and commissions). In addition to the expectation that 90% of layoffs may be temporary, 65% of employers reported that base pay remained unchanged and 45% say they are leaving merit raises in place in 2020. conducted the COVID-19 Compensation and Benefits Impact Survey, which targeted 1,176 compensation managers across the U.S. and Canada, to better understand the full range of actions that employers and HR professionals that focus on compensation are taking in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak — details not being uncovered in the weekly job loss headlines. The report provides further details on industries most impacted by the current crisis as well as how organizations are adjusting base and variable pay, and long-term compensation strategies.

“We launched this survey to help organizations and employees make decisions with confidence at a time when the labor market is shedding jobs at a record pace,” said Kent Plunkett, CEO of “What we found gives employers new and deeper insights into what’s needed to make sound decisions on issues such as hiring, pay raises, promotions, pay equity, and workforce management.” 

Kent Plunkett

Industries such as retail (brick and mortar), manufacturing, non-profits, and healthcare — hit the hardest by the economic downturn — were more likely to take multiple negative actions that impacted employee pay. For all industries, 20% of employers eliminated planned merit raises for 2020 and another 24% are postponing merit increases.

“We were excited to see the optimism of business leaders come through in the data however, it’s likely that anxiety about where employment and compensation is headed in the coming months will remain high. We plan to continue releasing detailed information that will help employees make informed career decisions and organizations structure their pay programs to be equitable and competitive,” Plunkett said. “Having the most up-to-date information is always critical to getting pay right.”

The survey, fielded in mid-April, surveyed people working in compensation or total rewards roles within HR. plans to update the survey data quarterly to help organizations with total compensation decisions. For information regarding the complete survey catalog and how you can participate in future surveys, including the COVID-19 Compensation and Benefits Impact Survey as well as the 2020 Salary Budget Survey, click here.

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