France Telecom, the major French telephone service provider, used to be a monopoly owned by the French government. Two thirds of its employees have civil-servant status with guaranteed lifetime employment, and the others are protected from layoffs by strict French labor laws.
This may be good for the workers, but it hurts a company that's trying to become more efficient to compete globally in new areas such as television, internet and cellphones.
Since France Telecom can't simply fire people, it has come up with a novel way of encouraging voluntary departures -- by subsidizing new business ventures, and even guaranteeing jobs to workers whose new ventures don't work out.
The phone company has provided business guidance and financing for about a thousand new businesses, including a lot of pizza shops. (from The Wall Street Journal)