Bank of Boston Corp. said Thursday it will offer early retirement packages to 1,300 employees in an effort to reduce its total staff by 5%.

The staff reductions, which are scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 1997, are a result of the bank's pending mergers with BayBanks Inc. and South Boston Savings Bank. After the two acquisitions are completed this summer, Bank of Boston's total work force will number 25,800.

Karen Schwartzman, a spokeswoman for the bank, said that some 700 of the 2,000 jobs to be eliminated have already been cut through normal turnover.

She added that the bank hoped that many of those eligible for early retirement will take advantage of the offer in order to keep forced reductions in staff to a minimum.

If layoffs are necessary, the bank said it will offer employees whose jobs are eliminated severance pay equal to two weeks for each year of service at the bank plus an additional 10 to 30 weeks pay, depending on base salary, up to a 78-week maximum. Higher-paid staff whose jobs are eliminated will receive additional pay because experience has shown it is harder for them to find other jobs, Ms. Schwartzman said.

The early retirement and severance programs are available on equal terms to employees of all three banks.

As part of the early retirement program, employees of any of the three banks who are 52 years or older and who have at least 10 years of service as of July 1, will receive pay for an additional three years of age and service. They may also choose to receive their benefits as a lump sum payment.

They will get one year of medical coverage at the prevailing rate, retirement and financial counseling, or job retraining and outplacement services.

Bank of Boston's early retirement and severance packages compare favorably with those offered at other banks. Chase Manhattan Corp., which merged this year with Chemical Banking Corp., offers staff who lose their positions three weeks pay for every year of service.

Wells Fargo & Co., which acquired First Interstate Bancorp, offers line employees four weeks of pay for every year of service. Managers get a minimum of one to two years of pay depending on rank. Several hundred top executives may also choose to voluntarily leave the bank and receive the severance package.

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