Twitter workers say goodbye after Musk's ultimatum on working conditions passes

A new wave of Twitter Inc. employees. began posting goodbyes on Thursday, after the ultimatum deadline passed

Elon Musk

issued to commit to “long hours of high intensity” or leave.

Many employees spent the past day weighing their options after waking up Wednesday to an overnight email in which Mr. Musk told them to fill out a form by Thursday at 5 p.m. ET to indicate whether they want to stay on the company and are ready to be “extremely hardcore”. Employees who do not opt ​​out will receive three months of severance, Mr. Musk said.

The full scope of the departures was not immediately clear. After Thursday’s deadline passed and the resignations became apparent, Twitter sent an email to employees saying the company was temporarily closing its office buildings, effective immediately. The offices will reopen on Monday, the email said.

As Thursday’s deadline loomed, some employees posted goodbyes on the company’s internal Slack messaging platform, according to screenshots reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Some posted the “congratulatory face” emoji, which many employees had adopted as a symbol the end of the pre-Musk Twitter era following mass layoffs earlier this month.

Some officials said they doubted whether Mr. Musk’s email the offer of separation will have legal effect, noting that the email provided few details. Amid the uncertainty, the company later on Wednesday sent a document addressing similar questions, including saying Mr Musk’s email was an official company message, adding: “This is not a phishing attempt.”

“As you’ve seen, Twitter is at the beginning of an exciting journey,” said the document, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Please confirm that you want to be a part of this trip.”

Some aspects of the outage will vary by location. Employees in the U.S., excluding New York, will receive two months of non-work time on payroll, as well as health benefits and an additional one month of base pay, according to the document. This also generally applies to international employees, subject to local legal requirements, the document said.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, appeared virtually at the B20 business conference in Indonesia on Monday and said he has too much to do after taking over Twitter. The billionaire also said the social media platform should post more videos. Photo: B20 Indonesia 2022/YouTube

Employees in New York will receive three months of time off on top of wages and health benefits, more than elsewhere due to local legal requirements, the filing shows.

Some Twitter employees said they suspected many colleagues would take Mr. Musk up on his offer to leave the company, though they weren’t sure exactly how many. Of one group of about 60 employees, roughly 50 percent to 75 percent have told coworkers they plan to leave, one person said Thursday morning.

But other employees plan to stay, including for financial reasons or because they are curious about the company’s new direction, some of the people said.

The ultimatum represents Mr. Musk’s latest challenge to the staff he already has cut roughly in half by massive redundancies earlier this month, about a week after acquiring Twitter for $44 billion and taking it private. The company had about 7,500 employees at the beginning of the year.

Employees are also grappling with messages from Mr. Musk about future working conditions that some say are confusing. Last week, Mr Musk said he would roll back Twitter’s flexible telecommuting policy, although he said there could be specific exceptions.

On Thursday, Mr. Musk told employees that all that was required for telecommuting approval was for the employee’s manager to take responsibility for making sure the person was doing an excellent job, according to an email seen by the Journal. Some officials saw this as an attempt at reconciliation. In a follow-up email minutes later, Mr. Musk warned that any manager who falsely claimed someone was doing excellent or important work would be “left the company.”

Twitter has also laid off many contractors, including people working in engineering, marketing and customer support, the Journal reported.

Mr. Musk moved quickly to consolidate power, firing Twitter’s CEO, CFO and legal director on the same day in late October that it bought the company for $44 billion and took it private. Many other executives have since left. This week, several Twitter employees said they were fired after criticizing Mr. Musk on Twitter or internally in Slack.

Shannon Lees-Riordan, an employment lawyer in Brookline, Mass., said she received calls throughout the day Wednesday from Twitter employees seeking clarity on their rights after Mr. Musk’s late-night email.

Ms. Liss-Riordan filed three lawsuits against Twitter in recent weeks on behalf of recently departed employees, accusing the company of violating federal and state law by failing to provide legally required notice before mass layoffs. One lawsuit focused on full-time employees, while the second involved contractors. In the third complaint, a former Twitter employee accuses the company of firing disabled workers in violation of state and federal disability laws.

A little Twitter officials noted that those with visas have less flexibility. Many tech workers use H-1B specialty visas, which typically allow workers 60 days after losing a job to find a new job or leave the country.

Twitter’s laid-off employees may not have a strong case for violating the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, which requires employers to give 60 days’ notice before mass layoffs if the employer alternatively provides 60 days of pay and benefits, Mark Zimmerman said. , an employment attorney in New York. That’s because in the ultimatum email, Mr. Musk said that those who decide to leave the company will receive three months of severance.

“This is definitely Twitter’s attempt to avoid litigation,” Mr. Zimmerman said, adding that the same law exempts employers from providing notice before a mass layoff in case of unforeseen business circumstances. Mr. Musk recently tweeted that Twitter had suffered a “huge drop in revenue” after a series of advertisers began to freeze their spending on the platform.

Twitter isn’t alone in announcing massive layoffs.

Facebook

parent Meta Platforms Inc.,

Amazon.com Inc.

and

Elevator Inc.

recently made major job cuts having previously increased their workforce.

Write to Alexa Corse at [email protected] and Sarah E. Needleman c [email protected]

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