SunTrust Banks in Atlanta is laying off about 100 IT workers as it moves work offshore. But this layoff is unusual for what it is asking of the soon-to-be displaced workers: The bank’s severance agreement requires terminated employees to remain available for two years to provide help if needed, including in-person assistance, and to do so without compensation.
Many of the affected IT employees, who are now training their replacements, have years of experience and provide the highest levels of technical support. The proof of their ability may be in the severance requirement, which gives the bank a way to tap their expertise long after their departure.
The bank’s severance includes a “continuing cooperation” clause for a period of two years, where the employee agrees to “make myself reasonably available” to SunTrust “regarding matters in which I have been involved in the course of my employment with SunTrust and/or about which I have knowledge as a result of my employment at SunTrust.”
The employees were informed of their layoff at the end of September, and the last day of work for some is on Nov. 1. This is according to several of the affected employees, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.
The severance is seen by affected employees as a requirement to provide ongoing technical assistance as needed. The severance agreement itself says that this assistance from former employees “will be requested at such times and in such a manner so as to not unreasonably interfere with my subsequent employment.” An employee shared the severance clause with Computerworld.
This assistance can be by telephone or in-person meetings, and provided without “additional consideration or compensation of any kind,” it says.
“How do they think this is acceptable?” said one affected IT worker about the clause. He couldn’t fathom how the bank can cut its IT staff and yet insist that former workers be available to fix problems.