In Big Tech, Getting Laid Off Can Mean Taking a Fancy Vacation
- The typical US worker receives little to no severance pay when they get laid off.
- Not so in tech. After layoffs at Facebook, Snap and Twitter, some people have the money for long vacations.
- “Why not travel?” one laid off worker said.
Getting laid off can leave people stressed and with a lot of questions. How long will my health insurance last? How many months of expenses do I have saved? Who’s hiring? For people who have recently lost jobs in Big Tech, another question is where do they take their next vacation?
Amid a wave of cost cutting across tech, tens of thousands of people have been let go. Facebook laid off 13% of its staff, or about 11,000 people. Snap eliminated 25%. At Twitter, a combination of mass layoffs and abrupt firings under Elon Musk’s chaotic new reign has left more than 5,000 people jobless.
Yet, with a few years of sky-high pay, frequent bonuses and generous stock awards, along with several months of severance pay on the way out, many newly unemployed tech workers see their current job status not as a desperate situation, but as an opportunity to take a break abroad.
“I don’t really know what’s next for me yet,” one former Twitter worker said. “Why not travel?”
Typically in the US, workers receive little to no severance pay as it is not required under federal labor law. When companies do offer it, frequently severance pay is just one to two weeks of pay for every year a person has worked. So not only do most tech workers find themselves among the top 10% of pay in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they receive much more money than most workers can expect when getting laid off.
Facebook, which last year changed its name to Meta, has been relatively generous with severance for laid off employees, offering 6 months of pay, stock payouts and full coverage of benefits. One laid off worker there was on his way to Japan for vacation when he got the news he was laid off. While most people in other industries would probably cancel such a pricey trip, he kept his plans. Another worker, who spoke to Insider on condition of anonymity, said she almost immediately started planning a cross country road trip when she got laid off from Facebook.
“Now I’m free,” she said. When she first started working at the company, she was unaware how grueling the hours would be. After often working 18 hour days, she’s using her six months of severance pay as a chance to take an overdue sabbatical.
Other workers tech who have been laid off feel similarly. Although Twitter workers caught up in Musk’s initial mass layoff have yet to receive their one month of severance pay, they continue to be paid their regular wage for at least 60 days in accordance with state labor laws. One former Twitter worker took a trip to Paris soon after being laid off. Another is heading soon to Spain.
Another former Twitter worker said colleagues are organizing “all kinds of trips” among those looking to travel. “Ski trip? Beach trip? Tour the world?,” reads a message to fellow laid off Twitter colleagues seen by Insider. It launched dozens of responses suggesting and planning jaunts to destinations in the US for skiing and hiking, and trips abroad to Europe, Thailand, India and, South America.
One worker who lost their job at Snap was hit hard by the event. Left angry by how workers were treated and feeling somewhat adrift, the person found some solace in the ability to take “a spontaneous trip to Italy,” partly due to receiving four months of pay as severance.
“Copious amounts of wine and pasta will heal everything,” the person said.