Farewell to Twitter Workers After Musk’s Ultimatum Over Terms of Employment Passes

A new wave of Twitter Inc. employees began. posting goodbye Thursday, after the deadline passed on an ultimatum issued by Elon Musk for them to commit to “long, high-intensity hours” or leave.

Many staff members 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, 5 p.m. ET, to indicate whether they want stay in the company and they are happy. to be “extremely hardcore.” Employees who do not opt ​​out will be given three months of severance, Mr. Musk said.

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

As the deadline approached Thursday, some employees at the company’s internal Slack messaging platform said goodbye, according to screenshots seen by The Wall Street Journal. Some posted the “saluting face” emoji, which many employees took as a symbol of the end of the pre-Musk Twitter era after a mass repost earlier this month.

Some employees said they were suspicious of Mr. Musk’s email an offer to quit would have legal effect, noting that the email provided little detail. Amid the uncertainty, the company later on Wednesday released a document addressing such questions, including saying that Mr. Musk’s email was an official company communication, adding, “Not a phishing attempt this.”

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

Certain aspects of separation would differ by location. Employees in the United States, except in New York City, will receive two months of non-work time on payroll, as well as health benefits, and one additional month of base salary, according to the document. Generally, that would apply to international employees, subject to local law requirements, the document said.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, was almost seen at the B20 business conference in Indonesia on Monday and said he was overworked after taking to Twitter. The billionaire also said that the social media platform needs to publish more videos. Photo: Indonesia U20 2022/YouTube

Employees in New York City will receive three months of time off for payroll and health benefits, more than elsewhere due to local legal requirements, the document shows.

Some Twitter employees said they doubted many colleagues would accept Mr. Musk’s offer to leave the company, though they were not sure exactly how many. Of one group of about 60 employees, about 50% to 75% told colleagues they planned to leave, one person said Thursday morning.

Other employees, however, planned to stay, including for financial reasons or because they were curious about the company’s new direction, several people said.

The ultimatum represents Mr Musk’s latest challenge to a team he already roughly halved with a massive layoff earlier this month, about a week after he acquired Twitter for $44 billion and took it private. . The company had approximately 7,500 employees at the beginning of the year.

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

On Thursday, Mr. Musk told all employees who needed permission to work remotely and that a hiring manager takes responsibility for making sure the person is doing excellent work, according to an email seen the Magazine. Some employees saw that as an attempt to be conciliatory. In another email minutes later, Mr. Musk warned that any manager who falsely claimed that someone was doing excellent or necessary work would be “out of the company.”

Twitter has also fired many contractors, including people working in engineering, marketing and customer support, the Journal reports.

Mr. Musk has moved quickly to consolidate power, firing Twitter’s chief executive, chief financial officer and chief legal officer on the same day in October that he 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 on Slack.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor lawyer in Brookline, Mass., said she received calls during the day Wednesday from Twitter employees seeking clarity about their rights, following Mr. Musk’s overnight email.

Ms. Liss-Riordan has 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 the legally required warning before mass copies. One lawsuit is aimed at full-time employees, while the second involves contractors. In the third complaint, a former Twitter employee is accusing the company of firing disabled workers in violation of state and federal disability law.

Some Twitter employees noted that those on visas have less flexibility. Many tech employees use H-1B specialty occupation visas, which typically allow workers 60 days after losing employment to find a new job or face leaving the country.

Outgoing Twitter 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 a layoff if the employer provides 60 days of pay and benefits in exchange on that, it is said. Marc Zimmerman, a labor lawyer in New York. That’s because Mr. Musk said in the ultimatum email that those who choose to leave the company would receive three months of severance.

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

Twitter isn’t the only one announcing mass layoffs. Parent of Facebook Meta Platforms Inc., Amazon.com Inc.

and Lyft Inc.

they recently made major job cuts after previously combining their workforce.

Write to Alexa Corse at alexa.corse@wsj.com and Sarah E. Needleman at Sarah.Needleman@wsj.com

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