Laid-off Microsoft workers can keep extra cash

U.S. software giant drops attempt to recoup severance overpayment

Computer software giant Microsoft has dropped an attempt to recoup some severance money from 25 recently fired workers it mistakenly overpaid.

The Redmond, Washington-based company, which laid off 1,400 workers last month as the first wave of the 5,000 jobs it plans to cut in response to the global recession, acknowledged on Feb. 22 that it had tried to get the overpaid workers to return the extra money. But late on Feb. 23, it reversed course.

"This was a mistake on our part," said a Microsoft spokesman in an e-mailed statement. "We should have handled this situation in a more thoughtful manner."

Microsoft is "reaching out to those impacted to relay that we will not seek any payment from those individuals," according to the statement.

An accounting error is believed to have overpaid some former employees and underpaid others. Those who were overpaid were sent letters requesting them to refund the company by sending a check or money order.

"An inadvertent administrative error occurred that resulted in an overpayment in severance pay by Microsoft," a letter obtained by the blog TechCrunch reads. "We ask that you repay the overpayment and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to you."

The company did not say what caused the original error in severance payments, or what the amounts involved were.

“This was a mistake on our part,” said a Microsoft spokesman of the letter asking for repayment. “We should have handled this situation in a more thoughtful manner.”

The world's largest software maker, feeling the downturn in corporate and consumer spending, laid off 1,400 workers last month, the first of the up to 5,000 jobs it plans to cut over the next 18 months.


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