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7-day furlough for contractors

SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. has told about 1,000 technology contract workers to take seven days off the job, without Microsoft pay, in a cost-saving move that came as the company unveiled a series of perks for its internal staff.

A Microsoft spokesman, Lou Gellos, said yesterday that Microsoft told vendors who supply the contractors that about 1,000 workers globally would not be needed this week. The vendors, whose workers do software development for Microsoft, also were told to schedule two other days off, Gellos said.

Gellos said this is one of the first times Microsoft has scheduled a short furlough for its contractors. He said the company made the decision because it is over budget in some areas as it nears the end of its fiscal year June 30.

The vendors were informed at the beginning of the month

Gellos also said the decision is unrelated to a move late last week to offer new perks to its Redmond employees such as enhanced child-care benefits, access to dry cleaning and grocery delivery services, and better cafeteria food.

The moves were widely seen as efforts to improve morale and keep up with competitors such as Google Inc.

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