This article is more than 1 year old

Twitter begs some staff to come back, says they were laid off accidentally

Meanwhile, India workers in reported 90% purge

In a sign that laying off half the company may not have been the best idea, "dozens" of Twitter employees given notice on Friday were reportedly asked to return over the weekend.

While the move will only bring back a tiny portion of the nearly 3,700 people believed to have been axed following Elon Musk's acquisition of the app and website, it does appear to be a tacit acknowledgement that the world's richest man's decision to gut the biz may have been hasty.

Bloomberg spoke to people familiar with the matter, who said some of those being asked back were apparently laid off by mistake, while others who were dumped were actually necessary to Musk's $8-a-month fee-speech future for Twitter.

The SpaceX baron – who has surrounded himself with close pals and advisors at Twitter to run the thing – has said paying subscribers will appear more prominently on timelines, and that, among other things, he wants to offer longer-form blogging via Twitter.

Like many of the layoff reports from Twitter and elsewhere, it's been hard to get confirmation of hard numbers and details, and this layoff recall is no different. We've reached out to Twitter, but with its communications team virtually wiped out, it's unclear if our questions will even be seen.

It appears Twitter leadership went into a bit of a panic, based on what's said to be messages leaked from the company's internal Slack workspace over the weekend: after getting the go-ahead from above, senior staff asked tweeps whether there was anyone they could pull back to help with product development.

"Sorry to @- everybody on the weekend but I wanted to pass along that we have the opportunity to ask folks that were [let go] if they will come back," one manager Slacked to her coworkers. "I need to put together names and rationales by 4PM PST Sunday. I'll do some research but if any of you who have been in contact with folks who might come back and who we think will help us, please nominate tomorrow before 4."

"I think we might use some android and iOS help," she added in the note, as first shared by journo Casey Newton on Twitter.

Forced to return?

Twitter's layoffs are covered by the California and US Federal WARN Acts, which state that companies employing more than 100 people that go through a mass layoff – such as letting go 500 or more employees in a month – have to give 60 days of notice to those workers, or 60 days of pay in lieu of that warning.

Former staffers have already filed a lawsuit against Twitter alleging WARN Act violations, though an email sent to Twitter employees may contain a loophole that makes it harder to get that legal case heard.

"Today is your last working day at the company, however, you will remain employed by Twitter and will receive compensation and benefits through your separation date of February 2, 2023," a copy of the letter published by Business Insider said

"While you are not expected to work during the Non-Working Notice period, you are still required to comply with all company policies, including the Employee Playbook and Code of Conduct," Twitter told laid off employees.

What this means for employees asked to come back is unclear. According to the federal regulations in the WARN Act, "an employee has a 'reasonable expectation of recall' when he/she understands, through notification or through industry practice, that his/her employment with the employer has been temporarily interrupted and that he/she will be recalled to the same or to a similar job." 

Twitter's email to affected employees could be read to imply that recalls were possible, since tweeps are still employees until February, and alternatively that they weren't, as there's no mention made that recalls were on the table. 

How that will apply to recalled staff isn't clear, but it could mean that making a fat counteroffer to return, or refusing the request, would give Twitter cause to terminate those employees without having to pay them for the rest of the severance period. The time period may also resolve the issue of the 60 days of notice.

We've reached out to the Department of Labor to learn more about laid off Twitter employee's rights under the WARN Act and how they relate to recalls.

Finally, Musk has claimed Twitter usage is up since his takeover. One report tells us more than 15 million monetizable daily active users have allegedly joined since the second quarter of 2022, according to an internal document, taking the total to more than 250 million.

And finally, finally, the Tesla tycoon has tweeted that while he apparently has voted Democrat a lot in the past, for the 2022 US midterms, people should (in his view) vote Republican to balance out the Democrat president. An incredibly and depressingly overly simplistic take in today's American politics.

All while he continues pulling as many levers and pressing as many buttons as possible all at once in an attempt to reshape Twitter in a way that somehow pleases everyone all of the time. ®

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