Well I’ll be damned.
Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook — yes, Facebook — made news this week for treating their respective contractors and hourly employees with some common decency. Specifically, as the coronavirus prompts tech giants to tell salaried employees to work from home, tech contractors lacking in the same benefits will not have to chose between their health and making rent.
Essentially, if you’re an hourly cook in a tech campus’s kitchen and salaried employees stop coming into the office because of COVID-19, the official term for the disease caused by the virus, the fact that your services aren’t as needed won’t directly translate to a pay cut.
Twitter confirmed the news in an email to Mashable.
“For contractors and hourly workers who are not able to perform their responsibilities from home, Twitter will continue to pay their labor costs to cover standard working hours while Twitter’s WFH guidance and/or travel restrictions related to their assigned office are in effect,” wrote a company spokesperson. “All employees, including hourly workers, will receive reimbursement toward their home office set up expenses, and we are working with our vendors to ensure our contractors’ WFH needs are met as well.”
Which, hey, that’s pretty good actually.
Google, for its part, confirmed over email that office contractors will still get paid in locations that have work-from-home policies in place.
Facebook also got in on the do-the-right-thing energy.
“We are working closely with our vendors to ensure we prioritize our team’s health and safety,” Facebook spokesperson Chloe Meyere confirmed over email. “Facebook will pay contingent workers that cannot work due to reduced staffing requirements during voluntary work from home, when we close an office, when we choose to send an employee home, or when they are sick.”
Microsoft, for its part, didn’t return our request for comment. However, the company announced a similar policy yesterday.
“We recognize the hardship that lost work can mean for hourly employees,” read the blog post in part. “As a result, we’ve decided that Microsoft will continue to pay all our vendor hourly service providers their regular pay during this period of reduced service needs. This is independent of whether their full services are needed.”
We reached out to Apple to see if it had made a similar decision, but received no immediate response. The Verge, meanwhile, reports that the company will “give hourly workers their regular pay.”
That the major tech companies all decided to do right by their contractors in this uncertain time is, in no uncertain terms, positively refreshing. Of course, any other move would have been totally screwed up and monstrous. Perhaps, when this is all over, companies like Facebook and Google can take a moment to reevaluate the employee structuring and contracting decisions that made these decisions even necessary in the first place.
After all, you don’t have to announce you’re paying your hourly workers stuck at home because of the coronavirus if you put them on salary.
UPDATE: March 6, 2020, 5:45 p.m. PST: Amazon, it seems, didn’t get the memo. According to OneZero, Amazon Flex drivers “were told to stay home if they feel sick—without pay.”
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