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Microsoft to tighten up use of outside contractors and consultants

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Microsoft(s msft) has long relied on an army of outside contractors to keep things running — but that use will be curtailed going forward, according to an internal memo unearthed by Geekwire.

For “contingent workers” — including contractors, consultants and other external staff — typically people who work without benefits — new rules will apply. For example, after their 18-month stints, they will be cut off from access to Microsoft’s facilities and network for 6 months, according to the memo and FAQ which Geekwire prints in full.

Microsoft’s use of outside contractors has been controversial. Many sued the company years ago, claiming they were true employees in everything except name and were entitled to social security withholding and other benefits.

The news of restrictions leaked just days after Microsoft said it will cut 18,000 jobs — or 14 percent of its workforce — in the coming year. This is the company’s largest cutback, by far, in its 40-year history. This is a key part of CEO Satya Nadella’s attempt to get the company down to fighting weight.

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