Ford Motor Co. denies a published report that it is mandating the postponement of some 2,000 departing salaried workers who have accepted voluntary separation packages until later in the year because their positions are deemed “business critical.”

A Ford spokeswoman tells Ward’s the affected workers agreed to stay on for an extended period when they accepted their buyout packages.

“When an employee accepted the buyout offer, they discussed their departure date with their manager and some are staying past February because of critical business needs,” she says.

“This is not anything where these employees took buyouts and found out just now they couldn’t leave. They knew they wouldn’t be leaving until later in the year.”

The workers in question are part of 14,000 salaried positions being trimmed from the auto maker’s workforce as part of its Way Forward North American restructuring strategy.

According to the spokeswoman, the majority of workers who accepted buyout packages already have left. Actual figures are to be disclosed when the company releases its first-quarter results.

In the days following the Feb. 19 deadline for salaried workers to accept buyout packages, some media reports said the buyout packages had exceeded internal targets in one or two departments, causing Ford to rescind offers in some cases.

At the time, the Ford spokeswoman told Ward’s the packages were not guaranteed, and from the beginning the auto maker had reserved the right to rescind the offers.

“If there were more acceptances than an organization was able to accommodate, then there would be certain criteria applied to determine who would be able to take it and who wouldn’t,” she said, declining to provide a department-by-department breakdown.

Additionally, if too few workers signed up for the buyouts in some departments there could be “involuntary” separations, the spokeswoman said at the time.