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Short-time working, short time, or short-timers are terms used in both civilian employee and in U.S. military contexts.

Civilian usageEdit

Short-time working or short time is a situation or system in which civilian employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay.[1] The term can refer to short-term, recession-related programs operating in several European countries in which companies have entered into an agreement to avoid laying off any of their employees by instead reducing the working hours of all or most of their employees, with the government making up some of the employees' lost income. Employees who undergo training programs during their extra time off can often maintain their former incomes.

In Austria, the introduction of short time (Kurzarbeit in German) requires a special arrangement between what are called the 'social partners' of Austrian collective bargaining (which is to say, the Chamber of Commerce and the labour unions), who negotiate on behalf of the employer and affected staff the scope of the Kurzarbeit arrangement in terms of the staff covered, the maximum period of its application, the conditions for any lay-offs during the arrangement, and the scope of any professional training or re-training courses included.[2]

In 2009, the German government had budgeted 5.1 billion euros on the program, which replaced some of the lost income of over 1.4 million workers. The program was favorably cited in a 2009 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, which stated that it had saved nearly 500,000 jobs during the recession.[3][4][original research?] Besides helping to avoid mass layoffs, proponents of the program also cite its keeping skilled work groups together and avoiding the atrophy of their skills during extended layoffs, while critics have expressed concerns about its expense and that it might prop up non-viable firms.[5][original research?]

U.S. military usageEdit

In U.S. military parlance, the term "short" or "short-timer" was coined during the Vietnam War era to describe personnel approaching the end of their tour and/or term of service. In Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (1984), Specialist 5 Harold "Light Bulb" Bryant, Combat Engineer with the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army in An Khe from February 1966-February 1967 relates:[6]

We were in a fire fight one morning. We had our mad minute at six o'clock. We received some fire, and so we just started shooting. I guess maybe about eight o'clock a dust-off came in to take out a wounded guy. And they came and asked for me, and they told me that I was rotating. Going home right in the middle of the fire fight. I hadn't kept up with my days. I didn't have a short-time calendar.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Jakob Widner (2009). "Kurzarbeit: an Alternative to Lay-Offs". International Law Office. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Germany's 'Kurzarbeit' program a possible role model for other countries". German Information Centre. 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  5. ^ "Reduced hours save jobs, for now". German Information Centre. 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  6. ^ Terry, Wallace (1984). Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans. New York: Random House. p. 18. ISBN 0-394-53028-4.

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