As the coronavirus continues to spread, growing concern has prompted many tech companies to ask — or even straight up require — their employees to work from home.
Once such company is Facebook, which is allowing all employees across the globe to voluntarily work from home, provided they’re able to do their job remotely. This mandate allows Facebook’s employees to stay home until April 10, limiting their risk of contracting or transmitting the coronavirus.
However, not every worker from Facebook is an employee. The company also uses thousands of contractors supplied via various providers such as Accenture and WiPro. And according to a report by The Intercept on Thursday, some of these contract workers aren’t being allowed to work from home despite the current health threat.
Multiple U.S. contractors have reportedly complained about the situation, including workers from at least two Facebook offices. Various health authorities have been promoting strategies such as “social distancing” to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and being able to avoid offices and public transport would go a long way to help. It would also help alleviate stress and worry.
Unfortunately, some of Facebook’s contractors aren’t being given the option to work remotely. An Accenture employee stated workers are only being allowed to go home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms.
“[W]e’re all still in the office trying to focus on our work like cross contamination doesn’t exist for 14 days prior to symptoms showing up,” the Facebook contractor wrote in a post, via The Intercept.
The Intercept notes an Accenture manager claimed that Facebook wouldn’t let some contractors work remotely due to the nature of their work. When reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable that some work needs to be done from the company’s offices “for safety, privacy and legal reasons,” whether it’s performed by a full-time employee or contract worker.
“For roles that must be done in the office, we’re reducing the number of people present at any given time, as much as we can, and taking additional steps to limit contact for those in the office,” said Facebook’s spokesperson.
It isn’t clear what percentage of Facebook’s contract workers can’t do their jobs from home, however it seems even those that can are being required to attend the office. Facebook’s contractors remain mired in confusion and uncertainty as their experiences seem at odds with Facebook’s policy.
The Facebook spokesperson also told Mashable “Facebook will pay contract workers that cannot work due to reduced staffing requirements during work from home periods, when we close an office, when we choose to send an employee home, or when they are sick.” However, one contractor was reportedly told by Accenture they wouldn’t get paid sick leave. Another was reportedly told they would — provided they could produce a note from an immunocompromised family member.
Facebook’s new policy may sound good. Sadly it does little to help contractors if employers such as Accenture and WiPro don’t implement it.
“This is an unprecedented situation and we have been in regular communication with our full-time employees and partners globally — with our partners we have reiterated that they should take every possible precaution when it comes to worker safety,” said Facebook’s spokesperson.
Mashable also reached out to Accenture and WiPro for comment and will update if they respond.
The U.S. currently has almost 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
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