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Jonathan Sidener (The Arizona Republic) -- Intel Corp. is about to make an unusual offer to an unknown number of future employees: "Here's some money, please go away."

In what might be described as a preemptive layoff, some who had been promised positions at Intel will be offered a hefty bonus to give up the job, the company confirmed.

"It may have been done on an individual basis here or there, but I'd say it's quite unique to see an employer doing this on a broader scale," said Mark Leathers, a partner in the Phoenix human resources consulting firm of Leathers & Milligan.

Each year, Intel hires about 2,000 students in engineering and other fields who are about to graduate, some of whom receive signing bonuses.

After the offers were made this year, the bottom fell out of the market for computer chips and Intel said it would reduce the size of its staff by 5,000.

To help meet that goal, Intel developed a "reverse hiring bonus" plan, according to a company e-mail obtained by The Arizona Republic.

Future workers are to be offered two months' pay not to show up, while keeping the signing bonus.

Estimates vary on how many reverse hiring bonuses will be offered. One employee familiar with the plan said up to 1,500 potential hires would be considered for the program. Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said it would more likely be dozens rather than hundreds. The optional program may not be used in all departments.

Mulloy said Intel is not legally obligated to pay the reverse bonus. Other companies have simply rescinded offers.

"We're attempting to live up to the commitment we made to these people," he said.

(c) 2001 The Arizona Republic

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