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Company reverses stance its critics panned as heartless

What’s better than being laid off by Microsoft, overpaid on your severance, and then being told you had to pay that overage back? Finding out that you can keep the extra cash, of course.

Microsoft appears to have doubled back on its request to get the extra money back from the laid-off workers it sent larger-than-supposed-to-be severance checks to, after the company realized it was heading straight into a PR hurricane of bad press.

“I thought it didn't make sense for us to continue on the path we were on,” said Microsoft senior VP for human resources Lisa Brummel in an interview with CNET. “I have called now 22 out of the 25 impacted employees, only because I haven't had time to get to the three but I will after we hang up.”

Microsoft overpaid 25 workers, said Brummel, for an amount of money that averages about $4,000 to $5,000. The accounting error worked both ways, however. An additional 20 workers were instead underpaid on their severance, and Microsoft has since mailed out an additional check to cover the difference.

An additional statement from an unnamed Microsoft spokesperson noted that the whole ordeal was “a mistake on our part.”

“We should have handled this situation in a more thoughtful manner. We are reaching out to those impacted to relay that we will not seek any payment from those individuals,” it read.

Brummel says it makes sense for a company to attempt to recover some of its losses resulting from an accounting error. She related a similar story of her own: when the company overpaid her some time ago, she promptly returned the extra cash in the form of a check.

Indeed, asking for the money back is the normal course of action for Microsoft. “Occasionally, we have clerical errors,” Brummel told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “We rectify that by paying them (more) if they were underpaid and asking them to pay back the money if they were overpaid.”

The ask-nicely policy was untested for layoffs, however, as the 5,000 jobs it cut were Microsoft’s first ever – resulting in a “unique population” for HR to handle.

New checks have been put in place to deter accounting errors in the future, said Brummel. “My hope is that no one makes a clerical error again, but that's silly to think it will never happen.”

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RE: I blame Vista...
By Alexstarfire on 2/24/2009 2:47:06 AM , Rating: 1
You mean like how we should end world hunger and fight off all the diseases in Africa? Guess they can't figure out that fighting for a cause and dying is better than dying for no reason and living in fear.

I have never seen a need to help people that won't even help themselves.

Anyways, most people like to blame everyone but themselves. How can you, Americans, blame Bush when you yourselves elected him. We elect these people in power then complain about them. You don't like the people on the ballot, vote for someone else, simple as that. If no choice, then don't vote. I must say that our election process needs to change so it's not just whoever has the most money gets elected. Hell, I bet if Bill Gates ran for President he'd win.

RE: I blame Vista...
By just4U on 2/24/2009 4:58:27 AM , Rating: 4
No I mean like when alot of the people who live in other countries like to blame America (for just about everything) instead of having their governments get up and do something productive. But (as with the Bush comment) it's so much easier to ...

RE: I blame Vista...
By theapparition on 2/24/2009 8:19:06 AM , Rating: 3
You don't like the people on the ballot, vote for someone else, simple as that. If no choice, then don't vote.

Yes, because not voting will surely effect change. <rollseyes>.

RE: I blame Vista...
By MadMan007 on 2/24/2009 1:34:14 PM , Rating: 2
When an elected official makes bad decisions that were unforeseen by the electorate or not addressed by the candidate it's hard to lay the blame on the electorate. The key to being a good leader is to make good decisions when unforeseen problems arise and not being dogmatic about it.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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