Microsoft takes money back from sacked workers

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Microsoft is asking recently laid-off employees to return some of their severance pay that the company apparently overpaid, according to reports. As the recession bites, Microsoft and IBM are both facing layoffs and bad publicity.

In what appears to be a clear sign of the times, Microsoft is asking laid off employees to return portions of their severance pay, according to website TechCrunch. Microsoft has contacted some of its former employees and asked them to repay the software giant for overpayment on severance, due to the company’s own miscalculations, the site reports. Meanwhile, other former employees were underpaid, it says.

TechCrunch displays a copy of the letter Microsoft reportedly sent out to affected parties. The document reads: “This letter is to inform you that an inadvertent administrative error occurred that resulted in an overpayment in severance pay by Microsoft. We ask that you repay the overpayment and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to you.”

Microsoft last month announced plans to lay off up to 5,000 employees, including 1,400 the company let go on 22 January. It is not clear how many people were asked to pay money back to Microsoft, but TechCrunch says “it wasn’t a single isolated incident…”

The recession has taken its toll on even the mightiest of technology companies. Companies like Microsoft and IBM – bellwethers of the technology sector – have taken hits and suffered embarrassing exposures such as this reported severance issue.

For its part, IBM has quietly laid off up to 5,000 employees since the beginning of the year. Big Blue also took heat earlier this month over word that the company had an initiative called Project Match, which offers laid off IBMers, among others, the opportunity to apply for jobs in emerging markets where IBM is hiring such as India and China.

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