In an email early Wednesday morning, billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk gave the remaining employees at the company an ultimatum. They can stay and sign on to a “hardcore” culture of “long hours at high intensity” or leave. Employees have until 5PM ET today to fill out an online form with their decision.
But just hours before the deadline, key questions about the terms of the agreement remained unanswered, with employee livelihoods, visas, and careers hanging in the balance. On Wednesday, confusion reigned as employees sought out answers to how their employment might be affected. How would severance offers work? What would happen to employees on leave or vacation? What about people on visas, for whom their ability to stay in the US depends on having a job here? Employees compiled questions about Musk’s ultimatum for leadership, according to a copy of questions obtained by The Verge, and were promised more clarity as the clock kept ticking.
“This is not a phishing attempt,” the FAQ begins
On Wednesday evening, employees finally received an FAQ sheet answering some of their questions. The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Verge, lays out details of what the company is offering for people who want out. Employees can sign on to Twitter’s “exciting journey” or take a few months of pay and benefits and “transition away.”
The document begins with an overview section, including assurance that Musk’s email was real. “This is not a phishing attempt,” the FAQ begins. Strikingly, the FAQ says that employment at Twitter is essentially opt in: if an employee doesn’t click “yes” on the form to confirm they want to stay, Twitter will “treat that as a resignation.”
Employees on leave could get an exception. But for everyone else, their choice is final, the document says, and they can’t get an extension on making a decision. If an employee has parental leave scheduled, it will be cut short to align with their separation date, subject to local law.
Most US employees who don’t click “yes” will receive two months on payroll with benefits, plus one month of severance pay if they sign a forthcoming separation agreement. (The terms are slightly different for New York City employees.) In order to receive the additional month of severance pay, employees must agree and sign a separation agreement — but the terms of that agreement have not yet been shared. The document says the agreement will be circulated “in the coming weeks.” Employees who want to leave but do not agree to the separation terms will lose the one month of additional pay.
“He hasn’t done anything to earn our trust”
“I feel like Musk is forcing employees to make this decision on blind faith, but he hasn’t done anything to earn our trust,” says one employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal matters. “If we stay, there’s no guarantee our jobs will be safe or if our teams will exist if everyone leaves.”
One particular area of concern for employees was what would happen to people on visas. There won’t be any additional accommodations, according to the memo — they’ll remain employed through the non-working period. Employees with precarious immigration status will likely need to stay at Twitter or quickly find a new job in order to remain in the country.
For the employees that do stick around, the FAQ tells them to expect to do what it takes to perform “at the highest level.” In a “How We Work” section, Twitter says employees will be required to be in an office, with exceptions considered on a case-by-case basis. Working outside of business hours may be required, including weekends.
Stock options could be a potentially lucrative reason for people to stick around, and Musk has promised “exceptional performance” will be rewarded with “exceptional amounts of stock.” But whether the company could provide more details about plans for stock compensation in “Twitter 2.0,” the answer was curt: “Not at this time.”
Chaos has consumed Twitter since Musk took the helm late last month, including vast layoffs affecting half of employees and thousands of contractors. Major advertisers have paused activity on the platform, citing the disastrous rollout of Twitter Blue, the company’s paid subscription service.
Employees have just hours left to decide if they want to stay part of the tumultuous new Twitter — the document says that today is the last working day for those who want to leave. By 5PM today, Twitter will have a smaller workforce.
The Verge reached out to Twitter for comment. Musk gutted the press office during initial layoffs.