IBM has hatched a plan to ease thousands of workers out the door within two years without having to lay them off. U.S workers approaching retirement age can sign up for the Transition to Retirement program and reduce their hours by almost half while retaining 70 percent of their pay. In exchange, the employees must pledge to retire by the end of 2013.
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Pre-retirement workers will continue to receive benefits and 401(k) contributions and will be “exempt from any resource actions that may occur during the Transition to Retirement Period,” as IBM puts it. In other words, they won’t be laid off.
Eligible workers include those with 30 or more years at the company, regardless of age, and those who will be at least age 55 by Jan. 1, 2014, with 15 or more years at IBM. Older workers with fewer years of service are also eligible.
“The goal is for retirement eligible employees to have a conversation about retirement,” an IBM spokesman told Information Week. “For IBM, the success measure is being able to prepare for and predict when retirement eligible workers might choose to exit. It gives our U.S. business managers the opportunity to start building skills behind what we know are going to be some very strong skills leaving the business.”
IBM appears to be trying to reduce its U.S. headcount as part of a campaign to globalize its operations. It laid off more than 1,800 U.S. workers earlier this year. In fact, one estimate says IBM has cut U.S. headcount by 29 pecent, to about 95,000 workers, since 2005. The company employs 433,000 people worldwide.