Hewlett-Packard is cutting two per cent of its UK workforce, and asking employees to take voluntary pay-cuts.

In an announcement the company said: "We will lose about two per cent of our current workforce – about 70 people – in the UK."

Employees are being asked to take a ten per cent pay cut, for which they are being given eight days unpaid leave. The measures were announced to staff on June 28.

Voluntary HP's UK PR representative, Claire Usher said: "Employees in the UK have been asked to voluntarily take a 10 per cent pay cut for the period July 1 through October 31, for which they will be given eight days unpaid leave.

"This exercise will cover all salary grades, including part-time employees. However, staff on long-term disability leave or maternity leave will not be asked to contribute."

Employees decide "As of July 2 at 10am, nearly 23,000 employees had designated their choice, and more than 96 per cent had elected to participate on some level."

She added: "This is an entirely confidential exercise. Individual decisions will not be tracked. It's a voluntary proposal."

The voluntary program is part of a series of short-term measures HP is taking to stem the flow of costs while the company recovers from the faltering economy.

Future cuts The company announced a cut of about 1,770 marketing positions in January and 3,000 more management jobs in April.

HP's revenue of $11.6 billion for the quarter ending April 30 was 4 per cent lower than the same quarter last year, and its $0.18 pro forma earnings per share was 58 per cent lower than the second quarter of 2000. Other cost-saving plans under consideration include restricted corporate travel, company cars and mobile phone expenses, the spokeswoman said.

HP's action is similar to a move made by Adobe when it asked its 2,000 US staff to take the first week off in July this year.

More companies are resorting to these cost-cutting measures to stave off the effects of the slump in the IT market. Such companies include Sun Microsystems, Compaq, Dell, and Intel.