Fears have companies keeping employees on the clock when midnight strikes
It wont be long gowns, tuxedos and champagne this New Years Eve for millions of Americans. Instead, it will be just another day at the office. Nearly half of all American employers are requiring some workers to be available on New Years Eve because of the fear of Y2K computer problems.
At Fortune 500 companies alone, there will be an additional 100,000 people spending New Years Eve at the office, another 500,000 will be on call. The workers will be around in case major computers crash when the year 2000 rings in. The Y2K problem means computers will read the year 1900 instead of 2000 and that may cause machines to shut down.
Almost every business is tied someway to a computer and therefore the potential for problems effects most everyone. While billions of dollars have been spent to update equipment, there are no guarantees and most companies want to be prepared for the worst.
The Federal Aviation Administration feels it is ready for Y2K. To prove the point, the Administrator and several other employees will be up in the air when the clock strikes midnight.
The FAA employees will be in the spirit of New Years, wearing evening gowns and sipping champagne on their flight from Washington D.C. to San Francisco.
For other employees it will not be quite as eventful. A night at work will be much like a day at work. The Postal Service, America Online and AT&T will be requiring some workers to spend the New Year in front of their computers. The businesses plan to cater food and sparkling cider, even champagne in some cases. At many computer businesses, families are invited to spend the evening at work too. To make the evening eventful, games and food will be available for the kids so the parents dont feel so bad about working through the New Year.
News departments and Police forces across America are also requiring employees to come in to work. In Seal Beach, California police officers had to cancel their vacation time and be on call for the New Year. Police are worried about traffic problems, blackouts and heavy celebrations. News departments nationwide will be fully staffed and ready for any emergencies. In fact, in many cases the police departments will rely on news reports to alert them to problems.
So if you get to stay home this New Years Eve consider yourself one of the lucky ones. If youre working, at least you know youre not alone.
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