New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has announced he will furlough almost 500 members of his staff, including himself and his wife, for one week in an effort to close a huge budget deficit that has emerged from the coronavirus lockdown.
All 495 people who work for Mr de Blasio at City Hall will take a week of unpaid leave at some point between October 2020 and March 2021, according to reporting from the New York Times.
The economic shutdown has led to the city suffering a $9bn (£6.9bn) loss of revenue, leading to a $7bn (£5.4bn) cut in the city’s annual budget.
While the furlough scheme will only save about $860,000 (£663,000), Mr de Blasio says it has a symbolic purpose of demonstrating willingness to make personal sacrifices.
The mayor is currently locked in negotiations with labour unions over payroll savings.
"It was not a decision I made lightly," he said. "To have to do this is painful for them and their families, but it is the right thing to do at this moment in history.”
He also warned that, while job cuts for public sector employees were not imminent, 22,000 may be let go if unions did not show flexibility when it comes to pay.
When asked whether furlough could be applied to the city's entire workforce of over 320,000, Mr de Blasio said: “Everything's on the table. We're talking to labour about any and all ways to save money.”
The mayor’s budget for next year will be 12 per cent smaller. Mr de Blasio says he has requested extra funding from the New York State Legislature in Albany, but representatives have so far been reluctant to provide additional finances.
Earlier this summer, Mayor de Blasio cut the NYPD budget by $1bn amid nationwide calls for police reform. In May, he announced he had no plans to cut his $250,000 annual salary.