Microsoft Overpays Severance, Demands Money Back

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Microsoft Overpays Severance, Demands Money Back

(Image: Picasaweb user Chris)

Microsoft employees have been either given too much or too little money in their severance checks–and Microsoft wants the difference back. From TechCrunch:

Microsoft has inadvertently overpaid severance to some of its recently laid off employees, and is now asking for some of the money back. It’s unclear how many of the 1,400 employees laid off last month were affected, but we’ve confirmed that it wasn’t a single isolated incident (we’ve contacted Microsoft for a response). We’re also hearing that some employees may have been underpaid as well.

While the payroll error must be irritating in and of itself to these laid off workers (severance is a sensitive subject), it appears that Microsoft HR isn’t even bothering to explain how it happened (employees are instructed to call the office, which is closed for the weekend, if they want to know the details). Given that it was Microsoft HR that screwed this up in the first place, you’d think they’d at least include the calculations they made and point out where the error took place.

Microsoft will have to sue for the difference if employees don’t hand it over. The mistake is bad PR, but shareholders would be upset if the company didn’t at least ask for the money back. Whether legal action is worth it remains another question.

The best course of action for Microsoft is to stop here and accept the loss.

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About The Author
Drea Knufken
Drea Knufken
Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.
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  • Anonymous
    February 23, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Based on a posting at, one person’s over payment was a little over $2,000. Really??? They are asking for that back? Assuming the overpayment averages to that we’re only talking $2.8M – shame on you MSFT.

  • February 23, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    “The best course of action for Microsoft is to stop here and accept the loss.”

    I agree. I think it would be crazy for someone to have to return part of their severance pay. After all, they don’t have a job anymore! And with the economy going the way that it is, with unemployment projected to take another leap higher, it’s going to be hard to find a new one. If I’d managed to get severance pay from my last job, I’d be fighting to keep every penny.

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