Almost twice as many Savannah River Site workers as expected have already applied for a voluntary severance program that will remain open until Friday, officials said.
As of noon Wednesday, 375 employees had signed up for the prelude to a massive layoff that will start in mid-April, said Will Callicott, spokesman for the Westinghouse Savannah River Co., the main contractor at SRS.
"That is more than many people were predicting, although there's never been an official estimate," he said.
Unofficially, company officials expected about 200 full-time employees of Westinghouse and its five partners to sign up. The voluntary program offers the same severance package that will be given to workers targeted in the layoff to follow - one week's pay for every year of service, with a maximum of 26 weeks' pay.
After the seven-day window for the voluntary program closes, company officials will review the applications and notify employees next week whether they've been accepted, Mr. Callicott said. Those accepted will leave the company in mid-March.
Some employees who volunteer might not be allowed to leave SRS because they're considered critical to missions at the site.
The voluntary severance program is designed to reduce the number of pink slips Westinghouse and its partners will have to issue starting in April. SRS must reduce its work force by 1,200 this fiscal year and 600 to 800 in fiscal 2006, which begins Oct. 1.
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Sign-up for a voluntary severance program for SRS employees ends Friday. The number of employees accepted into this program will determine the number of layoff notices that must be sent, starting in mid-April, to reach a targeted reduction of 1,200 workers this fiscal year.