The tech trade has been roiled by waves of layoffs, with tens of 1000’s of employees shedding their jobs in current months. After Tesla billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter in October, he abruptly slashed almost half its workforce, then went again for extra.
However all that upheaval could result in stronger layoff protections for tens of millions of California employees.
Citing current occasions within the tech trade, state lawmakers have launched a invoice that might power employers to present employees extra discover of mass layoffs and would lengthen these protections to contract employees, who presently are excluded below state and federal legislation.
“Revolutionary industries like tech are a vital a part of our state’s economic system, and we all know that tech firms begin right here and develop right here due to our extremely expert workforce,” Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), who launched the laws, mentioned in a press release. “This invoice is about defending that workforce, from the engineers to the janitors, and ensuring they’re handled pretty throughout a job transition. To be professional tech, we now have to be professional tech-worker.”
The proposed laws would require employers who lay off greater than 50 employees at a time to present workers 90 days’ discover. It could additionally prohibit employers from pressuring employees to signal away their rights by way of waivers, nondisclosure agreements or non-disparagement agreements in trade for severance pay.
Curbing using such agreements can be a serious improvement within the tech trade, which has been below fireplace for tying severance packages to non-disparagement agreements.
At Twitter, for instance, when laid-off employees obtained their severance packages months later, they got here with some main strings connected: To get the cash, departing workers needed to signal away their proper to ever sue the corporate, help anybody in a authorized case towards the corporate except required by legislation, or communicate negatively about Twitter, its administration or Musk.
Below the proposed invoice, what Musk did at Twitter would most likely be unlawful, and all agreements signing away employees’ rights can be voided.
Twitter, which not has a communications workforce, didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Below the federal WARN Act, firms with greater than 100 workers are required to present at the very least 60 days’ discover in the event that they plan to put off greater than a 3rd of the employees at one location or greater than 500 workers, whatever the share, inside a 30-day interval. An employer that violates the discover requirement could also be responsible for again pay for the variety of days lower than the 60-day requirement. Firms usually supply 60 days of severance pay in lieu of discover.
California’s WARN Act is even stricter, making use of when there’s a layoff of fifty or extra workers inside a 30-day interval, and the employer could be responsible for civil penalties along with the again pay.
The proposed laws — the Defend Laid-Off Employees Act — additionally “closes the gaping loopholes” in state legislation to broaden layoff protections to contract employees, Haney mentioned.
“The contract workforce is sort of a shadow workforce. It doesn’t have the visibility or the voice or the protections of workers,” mentioned Tim Rowley, chief working officer of staffing platform PeopleCaddie. Though focus has been on layoffs of workers at giant tech firms in current months, mass layoffs of contract employees at these identical firms have largely escaped discover.
“Whenever you hear about layoffs, you’re not listening to in regards to the contractor neighborhood,” Rowley mentioned. “An enormous tech agency can lay off actually 1000’s and 1000’s of contractors and nobody would learn about it as a result of they aren’t required to make the identical kind of public announcement.”
The proposed laws is sponsored by TechEquity Collaborative, California Labor Federation, Nationwide Employment Regulation Challenge, Temp Employee Justice, Nationwide Authorized Advocacy Community, California Employment Attorneys Assn. and Alphabet Employees Union-CWA.
“One of many worst elements of the contract work construction is a scarcity of severance and a scarcity of types of compensation that final after being fired, like 401(ok), vested inventory choices, and so on. that straight employed employees get,” David Jones-Krause, a former contract employee at Google and a member of Alphabet Employees Union-CWA, mentioned in a press release. “Even when they’re fired, they’re leaving with all these issues — we’re not.”
Throughout all industries, intensive reliance on contractors has resulted within the creation of a “second-tier workforce,” one whose members usually tend to be individuals of colour, mentioned Laura Padin, director of labor buildings at Nationwide Employment Regulation Challenge.
“The truth that contract employees get zero warning in a mass layoff solely exacerbates these inhumane circumstances,” Padin mentioned. “Contract employees, like all employees, deserve ample discover so that they’re not not noted to dry when layoffs hit.”
Contracted workforces are additionally below scrutiny on the federal stage.
Final week, the Nationwide Labor Relations Board decided that Google is a “joint employer” of a bunch of Texas-based YouTube employees employed to work for the corporate by a staffing company. For the needs of collective bargaining, ought to the employees vote to unionize, Google is legally their boss, exercising “direct and speedy management over advantages, hours of labor, supervision and path of labor,” the regional director of the NLRB wrote within the ruling.
Google has mentioned the subcontracted employees will not be its workers and will attraction the ruling.
Instances workers author Jaimie Ding contributed to this report.