National Semiconductor Taking Back Company-issued iPods?
If the company were taking back mobile phones, this wouldn’t even be news. After all, mobile phones are viewed as “business tools” and when you are let go or leave a company, you must return all the business tools back to the company. iPods have not been generally accepted as a business tool, though I can certainly see how they could be used as corporate tools. They sync calendar/contacts, you can listen to corporate podcasts, watch corporate videos, etc.
Whenever your employer gives you something, particularly if it is an expensive item like an iPod or a service like a mobile phone, it is your responsiblity as an employee to find out two important things: who owns the device/service and what the acceptable usages of said device/service are. If the company is smart, they will have a written policy you can review.
To be fair to NatSemi, I have no idea if they told their employees who owns the device and defined acceptable usage guidelines for it. If they did, well then too bad for the 35 people that had to give them back. If NatSemi didn’t clearly define this, then I would tend to view these iPods as gifts and NatSemi should eat it. Even if the iPods were NatSemis, if I were in charge, I would be inclined to let those people keep their iPods. Given the fact they were laid off. I view it as a small “parting gift.”
It all comes back to taking care of your talent. You should take care of your talent, even ones that are leaving. You never know when you might need that talent “back.”