BuzzFeed employees demand it pay out earned PTO to all laid-off U.S. staffers

A group of current and former BuzzFeed employees are

asking the company to pay out paid time off
to all recently
laid-off staff. In response, Lenke Taylor, BuzzFeed’s human
resources lead, said it wants to meet with staff and is “open to
re-evaluating” its decision on PTO.

In an open letter to Smith, BuzzFeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti, and
editor in chief Ben Smith, and signed by more than 400 employees so
far, the BuzzFeed News Staff Council wrote “BuzzFeed is refusing
to pay out earned, accrued, and vested paid time off for almost all
U.S. employees who have been laid off.” The BuzzFeed News
Council, which describes itself as “a group of employees
appointed to open up the lines of communication between News
employees and company management,” added that BuzzFeed is only
paying out PTO to employees in California, where it is required by

BuzzFeed announced
last week
that it is laying off 250 employees, or 15 percent of
its workforce. In an employee memo, Peretti said the lay offs were
done to help BuzzFeed sustain growth without seeking additional
rounds of funding. The company has raised almost $500 million over
the past decade,
including a $200 million flat round in 2016

“This is paid time that employees accrued by choosing not to
take vacation days, and instead do their work at BuzzFeed,” the
letter read. “Many of the employees who have been laid off had
the most difficult jobs in terms of scheduling—such as the
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

“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 continued. “It is
unconscionable that BuzzFeed could justify doing so for some
employees and not others in order to serve the company’s bottom

BuzzFeed’s laid-off employees received a severance of a
minimum 10 weeks pay, and benefits through April. Taylor’s
response to the petition’s organizers said the company wants to
meet with staff to discuss the issue:

“We would like to have a dialogue with the news staff council
and staff from other departments on PTO payout. We are open to
re-evaluating this decision but we think it is important for
everyone to understand the tradeoffs in changing the PTO practice,
how we came to the decision to offer everyone a minimum of 10 weeks
salary, and the ways we’ve adjusted our severance to be fair and
competitive in every state we operate,” she wrote.

Taylor added that the company will follow up with employees by
the end of Monday to schedule a meeting.

Source: FS – All Tech News 2
BuzzFeed employees demand it pay out earned PTO to all laid-off U.S. staffers