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MS coughs up $97m to settle permatemp case

Doesn't look so clever split between 12,000 though...

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Microsoft has agreed to cough up $97 million to settle its long running legal dispute with the "permatemps." A lawsuit on behalf of these workers, many of whom had held down "temporary" jobs at Microsoft for years, was filed against the company in 1992, and has been cranking through the system ever since.

Long-stay temporary workers have been common in the computer industry, the big advantage for the companies employing them being that they don't qualify for the same terms and conditions as permanent staff. In Microsoft's case the temps were missing out on quite a lot by not having access to the employee stock purchase plan. This might not have been a massive advantage recently, but for most of the period of the lawsuit it's been a nice little earner.

Something between 8,000 and 12,000 people who worked for Microsoft in the period from December 1986 to June of this year are thought to be covered by the settlement. When it became apparent that it was on a loser earlier this year, Microsoft changed it policy on temps, effectively shutting the door on future claims.

The company still employs temps, but insists they take a hike for at least 100 days after they've worked for 364. Officially it's altering the balance in favour of more permanent staff, but internal documentation seen by The Register earlier this year suggested it was pressuring its managers to keep temps temporary, and not to give them permanent posts willy-nilly. ®

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