Twitter workers who face losing their jobs in the UK have been given three days to nominate a representative for a formal consultation about their employment.
The social media company began widespread staff cuts around the world on Friday, with suggestions as many as half of its more than 7,500 staff could be axed.
Workers in the UK have been told the company plans to inform and consult employee representatives ahead of potential redundancies, as required by employment law.
An email sent to staff from Twitter’s HR department on Saturday said they had until 9am on Tuesday to nominate any current employee.
A maximum of 10 representatives can be nominated, with an election to be held if more than 10 nominations are received, according to the email.
Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.
Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
Representatives will be required to attend consultation meetings and help communicate between the firm and affected employees.
But Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, which represents thousands of technology workers including Twitter staff, described the process as “a complete sham”.
He said membership among Twitter workers has been “growing rather rapidly” since new owner Elon Musk announced job cuts.
Mr Clancy described the situation as the “digital P&O” – in reference to the shipping company, which was widely condemned after it sacked nearly 800 crew members without notice in March and replaced them with cheaper agency workers.
Musk is thought to want to drastically reduce costs at the company after completing his 44 billion dollar (£39 billion) takeover of the platform last week, since tweeting “we need to pay the bills somehow”.
He said on Friday evening: “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.
“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance.”
Its head of safety later said jobs cuts have affected about 15% of the trust and safety department, as opposed to approximately 50% of cuts company-wide.
Prospect has written to Business Secretary Grant Shapps urging him to intervene in a letter which said: “It is totally unacceptable that anyone should be treated in such a manner.
“I hope that you will agree with me that the Government must make it clear to Twitter’s new owners a digital P&O would not be acceptable and that no-one is above the law in the UK, including big tech barons.”
Simon Deakin, a professor of Law at the University of Cambridge, said if 100 or more employees are sacked within a period of 90 days, the Business Secretary must be notified 45 days before the first dismissal.
Where there are more than 20 but fewer than 100 potential losses, the period is 30 days.
Staff have been told that everyone received an email by 9am PST (4pm GMT) on Friday, with those who are affected by the cuts set to receive the message on their personal email address rather than the one associated with their work.
Some have since taken to Twitter to confirm they are leaving the company, with some revealing they have been logged out of their work laptops and internal messaging systems.
Twitter employee Simon Balmain told Sky News: “Late last night we all received an email saying there is going to be a large reduction in headcount and the email stated that if we would be laid off, it would go to our personal email and if not to our work email.
“And it was about an hour after that, this is in the early hours of the morning UK, like 2am, that I noticed my work laptop was remotely wiped and my email access and Slack access were both revoked.
“And then I got in touch with a few colleagues, and it seemed a lot of people were seeing the same thing.”
A BEIS spokesperson said: “We are watching what is happening at Twitter with interest.
“While we cannot comment on the individual cases, we expect companies to treat their employees fairly and our thoughts are with those who have lost their jobs.
“There are clear rules companies must follow when making large numbers of redundancies which includes consulting with staff and notifying the Redundancy Payments Service.”