Hundreds of BuzzFeed staffers are demanding checks for paid time off after getting laid-off

Tim Pearce, DCNF

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Hundreds of current and former BuzzFeed employees are demanding the media company pay recently laid-off staff for paid-time-off they accrued before being laid-off from the company.

The BuzzFeed News Staff Council (BNSC), a group of employees that serve as a communications channel between staff and management, published an open letter to BuzzFeed’s founder and CEO Jonah Peretti, Chief People Officer Lenke Taylor and Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith on the blog site Medium Saturday.

The letter comes after news broke of mass layoffs coming to BuzzFeed. Peretti told employees in an email Jan. 23 that the media company would cut around 15 percent of employees, roughly 250 jobs, as part of a massive restructuring of BuzzFeed’s business model.

BuzzFeed has not paid most laid-off employees for their unused paid vacation time accrued while at the company. Employees laid-off in California are the only exception because state law requires employers to do so, according to the letter.

“This is paid time that employees accrued by choosing not to take vacation days, and instead do their work at BuzzFeed,” the letter states. “They saved up those days (or weeks) because they were so dedicated to their work, and, in some cases, felt actively discouraged from taking time off.”

“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,” the letter states. “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.”

More than 460 current and former employees had signed onto the letter by Monday morning.

BuzzFeed’s severance policies differ by state but every laid-off employee will receive a minimum of 10-weeks salary. Management is open to reconsidering the company’s treatment of paid time off in its severance policy, Taylor told the BNSC in a response provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“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 where we operate,” Taylor’s statement said.

Taylor and Peretti are willing to meet with employees to discuss the matter further, Taylor said.

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