If you live in California and are a recently laid off Buzzfeed reporter, then count yourself lucky, as your out-of-state compadres had to fight to see a dime of their accrued paid time off.
According to a post from Medium by the BuzzFeed News Staff Council, BuzzFeed’s recently laid off some 250 employees who live in states where a company isn’t legally required to pay up on their paid time off weren’t going to receive a dime from the internet’s favorite listicle generator and “bombshell” story fabricator.
The Medium post, authored by Jonah Peretti, Lenke Taylor, and Ben Smith, say that BuzzFeed is keeping the pay from their recently laid off employees despite the fact that it presents itself as a company that cares about its employees, and is doing so because they legally can. Only those in California are spared:
BuzzFeed is refusing to pay out earned, accrued, and vested paid time off for almost all US employees who have been laid off. They will only pay out PTO to employees in California, where the law requires it. We understand that in other states where BuzzFeed employees have been laid off, state law does not require you to do so. But employers absolutely can pay out PTO — and often do. It is a choice, and for a company that has always prided itself on treating its employees well, we unequivocally believe it is the only justifiable choice.
The trio went on to note that many of these people not recieving their PTO pay are “breaking and curation teams on BuzzFeed News who regularly worked weekends and holidays, or managers who weren’t able to use vacation time because they were expected to be available to their teams.”
Senior cultural writer for BuzzFeed, Anne Petersen, noted that BuzzFeed writers garner weeks of PTO that they never use due to the fact that many of the journalists live in a culture where taking that time off is considered something akin to dishonorable.
The most insidious thing about this = most of the laid off BuzzFeed employees have weeks & weeks of PTO, largely because reporters in general (and younger, digital ones in particular) internalize that to take vacation is to abscond on your duty https://t.co/kaWHkZBqVz
— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) January 28, 2019
The BuzzFeed News Staff Council, however, subtly made it clear that if BuzzFeed does not pay out the PTO to its staffers then there will be a problem.
For many people, paying out PTO will be the difference between whether or not bills and student loans will be paid on time and how their families are supported. It is unconscionable that BuzzFeed could justify doing so for some employees and not others in order to serve the company’s bottom line.
We, the undersigned, stand together in demanding that BuzzFeed pay out earned PTO to all laid-off employees, regardless of the state they live in, to eliminate this disparity. It is the only just way to proceed — especially as this round of layoffs has been so damaging to your workforce as a whole — to pay your employees for the time they earned while working so hard to make BuzzFeed a successful company.
The Medium post was then signed by some 347 BuzzFeed employees, former and current.
All is not lost for the laid off, however. BuzzFeed management saw the Medium post as a problem and decided that they “are open to re-evaluating this decision” as told in an internal memo.
BuzzFeed management responded internally tonight to the Medium open letter signed by 350 employees demanding that the company pay out earned time off: “We are open to re-evaluating this decision…” pic.twitter.com/llci0v08Bi
— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) January 28, 2019
Whether BuzzFeed caves or not remains to be seen, but rest assured that if the company does have to give up PTO to a larger chunk of the 250 employees, then we may see more layoffs sooner than later. What’s more, if they don’t pay the PTO, you can bet there will be a backlash from the internet’s leftist mob.