Apple employees say it’s harder than ever to get remote work requests approved after the company rolled out a new hybrid model that will require people to return to the office three days a week starting in early September. Some employees say they will quit if Apple doesn’t change its stance.
While Apple historically discouraged employees from working from home, there were one-off exceptions to the rule, and some teams were more lenient than others. Now, employees say that even those exceptions are being denied. In a company Slack channel where employees advocate for remote work, roughly 10 people said they were resigning due to the hybrid work policy or knew others who’d been forced to quit. The Slack channel currently has more than 6,000 members.
In a survey on remote work conducted by employees in June, 36.7 percent of respondents said they were worried they’d have to leave Apple due to the lack of flexibility (1,735 people answered the question).
The return-to-work plan has already been a flashpoint at Apple, where employees wrote a letter in June asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to reevaluate the hybrid model. Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of retail and people, sent a video in response saying that in-person collaboration was “essential” and noting the company would not be backing away from its current approach.
While Apple’s corporate employees certainly have more flexibility than the retail staff, some say it’s out of step with other big tech companies in Silicon Valley. Twitter and Facebook have already announced a permanent work-from-home policy, and Apple employees say they’ve been flooded with recruiting messages from other tech organizations eyeing a potential opportunity.
One employee said they were currently on an Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation that allowed them to work from home, but were told that accommodation would be denied when the company went back to the office. “I will be out of a job in September,” they wrote in Slack.
Apple typically gives employees 30 days to find a new job within the company if their current team denies a medical accommodation. But one worker said in Slack that there weren’t any open remote positions.
Some employees say they were told only people with documented medical conditions would be approved for permanent remote work. But the form that Apple employees use to request such an accommodation asks them to release their medical records to the company, which made some people uncomfortable.
Now, employees are discussing how to get Apple’s attention. Some suggested writing another letter to reiterate their concerns, while others have discussed talking to lawyers about possible legal action.
Apple declined to comment for this story.