Microsoft overpays severance

February 23, 2009 // 9:54 a.m.

Tags: #credit-crunch #demand

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has made itself one of the least popular companies of the current economic downturn with the news that it is to claw back severance payments made to recently laid-off employees.

According to TechCrunch, the company has started sending out letters to an unknown quantity of the 1,400 employees it has laid off recently asking for an accidental overpayment in their severance packages to be returned.

The letters – a copy of which has been posted by one recipient to Scribd.com – describes the problem as resulting from an “inadvertent administrative error [which] resulted in an overpayment in severance pay by Microsoft.” Rather than accepting the overpayment as an honest mistake and a parting bonus for the ex-Microsofties, the company's payroll department goes on to explain that the recipients must “follow these repayment instructions” to return the money to Microsoft in the form of a “check [sic] or money order […] within fourteen (14) days.

The company is receiving flak not only for having the temerity to demand the return of severance payments, but for not including the calculations which would explain exactly where the error occurred. Recipients of the letter are instead expected to either take Microsoft's word for it or to call the payroll department directly – a department which was, obviously, closed for the weekend by the time most of the recipients had read the letters.

So far there has been no reports of an official statement from Microsoft on the matter, either publicly or in response to complaints from the recipients of the demand.

Do you believe that a company as big as Microsoft should have swallowed the loss resulting from the overpayment, or are the ex-employees simply trying to hang on to money which they are not due? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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