Trading Places

Inside views on the jobs market

You’re fired — and you owe us money


Taking back banker bonuses — known as “clawbacks” — has been mooted in the U.S. bailout of the financial industry, but Microsoft briefly broke some new ground this week by introducing the concept to severance payments.

Citing an accounting error, Microsoft notified laid off employees that they would need to give back part of their severance pay. The company graciously offered to accept either checks or money orders.

“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.”

Late on Monday, the software giant realized that its request may have seemed just a teensy bit insensitive, and dropped the “clawback” request.

Panasonic: ideas for life, but not jobs



Panasonic, the world’s No.1 plasma TV maker, is cutting about 15,000 jobs as it grapples with a stronger yen and slowing demand. Half the cuts will be in Japan and half overseas, our report explains. If you work for Panasonic, tell us what’s happening in your office or factory. Have you been told how the cuts will impact you? How do the severance terms where you work compare with other units of Panasonic?