IBM is offering employees who are nearing retirement, and who might be worried about layoffs, a one-time opportunity to participate in a program that would guarantee their employment through Dec. 31, 2013.
The program, called "Transition to Retirement," would cut workers' hours and pay. But employees would continue to receive certain benefits, including company contributions to their 401(k) accounts, until the guarantee's expiration date.
According to a letter addressed to IBM managers, the program "offers participants 70% of their pay for working 60% of their schedule." Employees enrolled in the program would be exempt from any "resource actions" -- meaning layoffs. In return, enrolled employees agree to retire on or before Dec. 31, 2013.
The letter was received by the Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701 union, which made it available. IBM confirmed the letter's contents.
At the end of 2011, IBM employed 433,236 people worldwide, up from 426,751 in 2010. In the U.S. specifically, IBM has been reducing its workforce; the most recent cutback occurred in February, according to the union. In 2006, IBM employed around 127,000 in the U.S.; now, that number is said to be around 95,000.
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.