Microsoft asks laid off workers to return part of severance

Last month Microsoft let go 1400 workers as part of their plan to lay off 5000 people over 18 months and of course with most redundancies there was some sort of severance pay, but it seems Microsoft thought the money given was just a bit more then they had desired.

Techcrunch got access to a document that was sent out to some of the workers who were let go, instructing them that due to an accounting error, they will need to pay back some of the money that they received. Microsoft says that employees who have been sent letters (many of which are unemployed at the moment) have 14 days to return the money.

"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 has asked.

When Microsoft was contacted to see if the letter was indeed genuine they admitted it was, but said the matter would be discussed behind closed doors and not in the public domain. There is no word on how much the overpayment actually was, or how many former employees were contacted. Microsoft say those who don't decide to pay it back could face some monetary fines.

This is a further blow to the workers who were released by Microsoft last month.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Quake Live public beta opens next week

Next Story

Why Facebook users must still be cautious

48 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I was reading further over at the WashingtonPost.com site.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/economy-w...ml?hpid=topnews

and read a former Microsoft Employee commenting on the article :

Posted by: bushieisa | February 23, 2009 8:26 PM

Lest anyone forget, Microsoft's halcyon days ended 15 years and and they have not had a noteworthy success since Office 2003. I don't know anyone who likes Vista, and I contracted there working on Windows 7, and it is total garbage. Ballmer is a loudmouthed moron too instinctively competitive to manage anything more demanding than a trip to the toilet, and everything that was great at Microsoft is long gone. They no longer know how to inspire people to do great work and are preoccupied with process, procedure, standards and uniformity. Got their stock? Sell it. I sold mine at $28.

I worked there half the last 20 years, looking forward to interviewing there again so I can tell off the next 'hole who tells me to go write code on a whiteboard. I'm taking my retirement accounts and moving to Vietnam, where I am at the moment, typing on a Thinkpad running Linux.

Windows 2000 was their technical peak; it hasn't been a great place to work for almost a whole generation.

Funny as hell they would expect anyone to send back a severance. Screw you, Ballmer!

Bad move by MS to request the $$ back. I can understand if they were still employees of MS, but they got laid off...give them a break. MS can handle giving out a little extra money.

Hopefully, we will be seeing a statement from MS in the next couple days saying they they dont want the money back or something...

I call BS. The letter looks fake in several places.

"in an overpayment IN severance pay"
"amount you owe BACK to Microsoft"
"repayment in a later calendar year in which the overpayment was received."

I could do a much better fake job with any letter from MS.

Except that the original source does not have any actual quotes from anyone specific at MS (they claim to have "contacted Microsoft")

I will believe it when a mainstream NEWS source reports it, not some 4-year-old blog site.

Multiple TECH sites have reported this as well as a bunch of radio news. Its real, deal with it. This isnt the first time a company asked for money back and its not the last. Nothing really shocking or surprising here really.

What's the big deal? If you worked for MS you should have an idea what your severance pay would be. If your cheque turned out to be more you'd have to know there could have been an error. Just because Microsoft made an error doesn't mean that a laid off employee should benefit from that.

Well the laid off workers could make a case for "unsolicited funds"
They didn't ask for the money, it just was delivered to them, and as far as I recall, anything mailed to you w/o your authorization (provided it has your name on it) is yours to keep. It's unsolicited mail.

Typical BIG business stuffs up and then thinks the poor unemployed worker should foot the bill well if were one of them the only thing i'd be paying MS would be a big fat midle finger held high and defient folowed by a ritual burning of the letter

Yes and that would pretty much confirm that they made the right lay-off choice. Who would want someone like that working for you?

this is pretty normal..i mean when i quit a job once they overpayed me for vacation and i had to pay that back
but u guys are forgetting how good MS is usually to their employees..dont ever forget that because this is the first time in forever that theyre laying off

+1. If MS overpayed then they should be ashamed for asking it back as they caused it and yet the unemployed are still not working so they should keep ALL that money they got, MS has billions of cash and a few missing thousands should not matter as they are still rich.
.....I mean, I wouldn't pay my ex-employer a ****ing cent back if they made a mistake like this after firing me. As far as I'm concerned Microsoft can go f-themselves on this one.

Yea, yea, big talk when it isn't you that's being given a letter from one of the largest corporations in the world...
If it was me I would be ****ed but I would be damn scared to cross thier legal department..

speedstr3789 said,


Yea, yea, big talk when it isn't you that's being given a letter from one of the largest corporations in the world...
If it was me I would be ****ed but I would be damn scared to cross thier legal department..

you added both my text and +Shadrack's text so so instead of speaking about just me look at the other one too.

It happens. That said, I would of hated to of been one of those ex-employees who got that letter. It would of been hard enough with losing your job, but getting a letter asking you to give some of your severance pay back would be a little gut wrenching (I've been in a similar situation, it's not fun but you'll feel worse if you don't give it back)

It must have been quite a large overpayment, otherwise I'm sure they would just eat it rather than mess with all of the trouble of asking for some back and dealing with any public fallout. I wonder if these folks were told they would get x amount, but received a check for x++, or if all of the numbers coincided from day one, and now they are suddenly being told otherwise.

Chrono951 said,
It seems a bit odd that repayments must be mailed to North Dakota and not Redmond, Washington.

That might be the the processing office for payroll (and other payments) for the company. HQ maybe in Washington, however, like most corporations, they have offices elsewhere to handle certain duties. And since it would be ND, I would have to assume its a tax thing.

Lyric said,
I wouldn't re-pay the money at all, I'd just keep it.

+1. If MS overpayed then they should be ashamed for asking it back as they caused it and yet the unemployed are still not working so they should keep ALL that money they got, MS has billions of cash and a few missing thousands should not matter as they are still rich.

I wonder what Microsoft could do to them if they didn't pay the money back... I mean, I wouldn't pay my ex-employer a ****ing cent back if they made a mistake like this after firing me. As far as I'm concerned Microsoft can go f-themselves on this one.

if an ex-employer decide to not to pay then what will happen?.
he can be accused from steal or scam?, i don't think so and if happens then Microsoft is also part of the scam (because they did give me this extra bonus).

I've been overpaid before and didn't even get asked to return the money - they just took it!

I guess mistakes happen but talk about a total kick in the balls to not only lose your job but find out your severance package wasn't what you expected it to be. I'd be pretty ****ed off.

If a mistake was made Microsoft have every right to claim the money back. Just because these people lost their jobs doesn't mean we should feel sorry for them and allow them to keep monies transferred to them by mistake.

It's like the couple that got the 100,000$ bank error... Sure they probbly could use the money...dosn't make it theirs.

Tile of article is FUD. Microsoft didn't intend the money to be part of the severance pay so they're not asking for it back. They're fixing a mistake

Rolith said,
Tile of article is FUD

@Rolith -

If you use our 'Report a Problem' feature, you would be able to let our news staff and editors know about any grievances you have with this or any article.

I see no reason to post that as part of a comment when the comments section is to discuss the article and not how it is written.

If you would like to know what the Report a Problem feature is and how to use it, please send me a personal message, so I can let you know

@Rolith

Even if they didn't intend it to be part of the severance pay it was still sent to the ex-employee's with the severance, just another person trying to find anything on neowin to moan at.

"Given that it was Microsoft HR that screwed this up in the first place, you̢۪d think they̢۪d at least include the calculations they made and point out where the error took place."

Payroll is responsible for payment but HR is responsible for ensuring that the employees have been properly terminated and processed. If someone doesn't get paid, that's Payroll's fault. If someone is still getting paid, that COULD be Payroll but it could very well be HR.

In the company I work for, both HR and Payroll have access to ADP.

First firing workers and then asking some of the severance back is just wicked.
This will generate a lot of negative press for them, and it's quite likely that heads will roll for this in HR.