Facebook moderators at an Accenture location in Austin are facing a payroll disaster that has left many without their vacation paychecks. Site workers 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 as early as January 4, when some workers noticed errors in the system that tracks paid time off (PTO), an administrative confusion attributed to a recent change in payroll providers on the site. Things got more serious when the January 6 round of paychecks didn’t arrive. Internal pay stub systems indicated that many paychecks were being canceled and workers had no idea when they might receive their money.
In an open letter to the CEOs of Facebook and Accenture, posted on an internal bulletin board, a group of workers pledged to halt work on the site until paychecks were paid in full.
“If these issues are not resolved immediately, a work stoppage will be issued,” the letter promised. “The work stoppage will begin on January 7, 2022 if nothing is resolved.”
Several lump sum payments were made to affected workers shortly after the letter was published, and Accenture says the company saw no indication of a coordinated work stoppage at the site in the days that followed.
In a call with employees on Saturday, an Accenture site managing director said he did not know when the issue would be resolved, but that the company would cover any late fees or overdraft fees incurred due to late. “You will be paid the amounts owed to you,” he said on the call, “and we’ll get it to you as quickly as possible.”
Some workers received lump sum payments from the company, intended to tide them over until the total amount could be properly calculated. But site workers say not everyone has received those payments, and many are in dire financial straits.
On Monday night, a moderator at the Austin site said more than 50 people on his team still haven’t been 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, missing a check is like missing a leg.”
The problem is particularly acute because of overtime pay and holiday expenses, which have been lost in the reshuffling between providers. “Some employees had to take out payday loans just to have enough money to buy food for their children,” said another employee. The edge.
Reached for comment, Accenture representative Stacey Jones said the company is working to resolve the issue. “We recently switched payroll providers and ran into some unforeseen difficulties during our first payroll campaign with the new provider,” Jones told The Verge. “Our number one priority since last week has been to get our people who have had issues paid – and we continue to encourage our people who need help to contact their supervisor or HR, so that we can help them to resolve.”
Meta (parent company of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp) often outsources moderation and other personnel services to companies like Accenture, although the arrangement has been driven by employee welfare in other cases. A 2019 Edge An investigation into an Accenture site in Austin moderating YouTube videos found that managers often forced employees to work during breaks and forgo vacations when faced with high demand.
Reached for comment, Facebook confirmed the disruption and highlighted Accenture’s efforts to address it. “Accenture has notified its employees of this issue,” Meta representative Kadia Koroma said, “and is working to resolve it as soon as possible.”
Update at 1:35 p.m. ET: Added new information from Accenture that the company has not seen evidence of work stoppage at the site.