Staff at Cern, Europe's particle physics laboratory, have reacted to massive budget reductions by taking extended holidays and pay cuts so that young researchers can be employed, writes Julia Hinde.
Cern, which is based in Geneva, introduced its revolutionary Saved Leave Scheme in September and says the take-up so far has been extraordinary, enabling the recruitment of up to 40 new young researchers.
The organisation is offering its 2,400 staff between five and 20 extra days' holiday a year in exchange for salary cuts of between 2.5 and 10 per cent.
A spokesman for Cern was adamant that the money went directly to new posts. He said: "The budget for 1997 was reduced by 7.5 per cent and for 1998 until 2000 by 8.5 per cent per year. We are also faced with building the Large Hadron Collider. An influx of new people is essential to keep morale and inventiveness at a high. So the management and staff association came up with this plan."
Jean-Pol Matheys, vice president of the staff association, said its members had suggested the scheme and that more than 50 per cent of them had subscribed.