Microsoft drops job axe on Philippine office

It offers voluntary separation package, allowing staff of its Philippines operations up to May 15 to decide whether or not they wish to accept the offer.
Written by Melvin G. Calimag, Contributor

MANILA--The coming days will be a period of hard contemplation for Microsoft Philippines employees as the local subsidiary takes part in the worldwide job reduction program that its headquarters announced in January this year.

Rafael Rollan, managing director of Microsoft Philippines, said in an interview with reporters Wednesday that a voluntary separation package (VSP) has been offered to local employees who have until May 15 to decide whether or not to accept it.

Under the exit package, each employee will receive a three-month compensation for every year of service, free of tax. In addition, they will also be paid a month's salary upon notice of termination of service.

Rollan said the company cannot say how many positions will be eliminated since the separation package is purely voluntary. The company currently employs 95 full-time workers.

However, Rollan said if nobody comes forward to accept the offer, the company will implement a redundancy program that is sure to shed some personnel. In this case, those affected would receive a lesser severance package, he said.

The local staff had mixed feelings after being told of the news, Rollan said. But after discussing it with them Wednesday, he said he seriously doubts that no one will accept the offer.

Rollan said he would consult with top regional executives to determine which applications to approve. So far, no one has applied for the separation package.

The planned job cuts in the Philippines come after Microsoft entered the second phase of its worker reduction program, which aims to cut 5,000 positions across the company's global operations. When Microsoft's initial announcement was made early this year by CEO Steve Ballmer, the company readily laid-off 1,400 personnel mainly from its U.S. operations.

Rollan said that although Microsoft's local operations is still growing, business conditions in the last quarter revealed that the landscape is still uncertain.

"It's difficult to say if our headcount is bloated, but the number of people that we have is not commensurate to the current business opportunities," he said.

Being a channel-centric company, Microsoft Philippines is not expected to be affected significantly by the job elimination, according to Rollan. The official said the software firm is putting in place a workload program so remaining employees won't be overburdened.

The local subsidiary said it has signed up an "outplacement service" firm to assist would-be laid-off workers for their transition. However, Rollan said they can re-apply with the company once the economy picks up again and Microsoft formally puts into high gear a hiring program for about 2,000 to 3,000 new positions globally.

Melvin G. Calimag is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.

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