Departing Pfizer researchers will get shriveled severance checks

Thousands of laid off Pfizer ($PFE) researchers have one more bitter pill to swallow as they contemplate the next chapter in their careers. Just weeks ago the company phased in a new, scaled down severance package. Instead of the three weeks of pay for every year served on top of the standard 13-week lump sum, departing employees will get two weeks of pay per year plus 12 weeks.

The Wall Street Journal says that they've been hearing some complaints about Pfizer's timing from some of the outgoing R&D staff, but the company insists that they still have a "generous and competitive package and provides a broad array of benefits to assist colleagues in their transition to a new opportunity."

For employees, it may have just been bad timing. Pfizer announced the reduced severance deal with employees in 2009. Even if it had unveiled the layoffs in December, workers wouldn't have qualified for the fatter severance pay as they won't actually get laid off for some months.

Many of these workers may also have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. While workers in Groton, CT and in Sandwich, UK are being pink slipped, Pfizer is marshaling its forces in R&D hubs like Boston, San Francisco and Shanghai, says new CEO Ian Read. In the brave new world of big pharma drug development, silos are out and collaborations are in. That means closer ties to academics and other developers.

- see the WSJ story