Facebook moderators at an Accenture site in Austin face a payroll disaster that has left many without their vacation paychecks. Workers on the site handle moderation, customer service and other tasks for Facebook and WhatsApp, and a work stoppage has already been threatened if the situation is not resolved.
The problems began on January 4, when some workers noticed bugs in the system that tracks paid time off (PTO), an administrative confusion that was attributed to a recent change in payroll providers on the site. Things got more serious when the January 6 round of paychecks didn’t come. Internal pay stub systems showed many paychecks as zero, and workers had no idea when they might get their money.
In an open letter to the CEOs of Facebook and Accenture, posted on an internal message board, a group of workers vowed to stop work at the site until paychecks were issued in full.
“If these problems are not resolved immediately, a work stoppage will be decreed,” the letter promised. “The work stoppage will begin on January 7, 2022 if nothing is resolved.”
Several lump sum payments were issued after the letter was published, and it is unclear if any work stoppages occurred in the following days.
In a call with employees Saturday, a managing director at the Accenture site said he wasn’t sure when the issue would be resolved, but that the company would cover late or overdraft fees incurred as a result of the delay. “The amounts owed will be paid to you,” he said on the call, “and we will get them to you as quickly as possible.”
Some workers have received lump sum payments from the company, with the intention of helping them until the full amount can be calculated correctly. But site employees say not all have received those payments, and many are in dire financial straits.
As of Monday night, a moderator on the Austin site said that more than 50 people on his team had yet to be paid. “I know many who are behind on bills, utilities, food and rent,” he said. the edge. “When you’re only paid $ 16 an hour in a city like Austin, losing a check is like losing a leg.”
The problem is particularly acute due to overtime pay and vacation expenses, which have been lost in confusion among providers. “Some employees have had to take out payday loans just so they can have enough money to buy food for their children,” said another employee. the edge.
When asked for comment, Accenture representative Stacey Jones emphasized that the company was working to resolve the issue. “We recently switched payroll vendors and experienced some unexpected challenges during our first payroll run with the new vendor,” Jones told The Verge. “Our number one priority since last week has been paying our people who have experienced problems, and we continue to encourage our people who need help to contact their supervisor or Human Resources so that we can help resolve them.”
Meta (parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) often outsources moderation and other staffing services to firms like Accenture, though the deal has translated into employee well-being in other cases. A 2019 Edge Research on an Austin Accenture site that moderates YouTube videos found that managers often forced employees to work during breaks and forego vacations when faced with high demand.
When contacted for comment, Facebook confirmed the outage and emphasized Accenture’s efforts to address it. “Accenture has notified its employees about this problem,” said Kadia Koroma, Meta representative, “and is working to resolve it as soon as possible.”