It was reported yesterday that Meta is expected to lay off thousands of employees as job cuts and hiring freezes mount, following similar news from Amazon and Lyft.

With the Bank of England warning that the UK is facing its longest recession in 100 years, organisations remain hesitant to invest in learning and development (L&D) for their staff.

HRreview has gathered expert insights into the HR and legal implications of this.

Joshua Raymond, Director at online investment platform XTB.com comments:

“The news from Mark Zuckerberg this morning that Meta will reduce headcount by around 13 percent comes as no surprise given the huge cost challenges the tech firm faces. The owner of Facebook and WhatsApp is suffering from a sharp drop in revenues and huge costs which has contributed to a share price fall by around 74 percent from the highs reached in August 2021. This is a spectacular fall from grace for what was one of the tech darlings.

“Yet do the job cuts go deep enough? We’ve already seen rival Elon Musk announce far deeper layoffs at Twitter in an effort to cut costs and with Meta already seeing net income dropping far more than investors initially expected in its fiscal third quarter, there’s every chance Zuckerberg may need to go deeper and harder. The firm faces severe headwinds of intense competition, high inflation and lower economic growth and so this may well not be the end of the layoff story. Meta remains very much in transition mode with big bets on the metaverse failing to convince investors to focus on the long-term projects within its Reality Labs unit – which saw widening losses of $3.7bn in Q3 – as opposed to short-term pain. Perhaps now for the first time, these job cuts show Zuckerberg is willing to address these concerns in the near term.”

Alexia Pedersen, VP of EMEA at O’Reilly comments:

“With the threat of recession looming, it’s encouraging that the majority (89%) of companies within the UK’s tech sector plan to increase spending on learning and development (L&D) over the next twelve months.

“The reality is that no tech firm is immune to recession – with Amazon announcing major job losses and Meta likely to follow suit. Now is the time for companies to deploy upskilling programmes to remain competitive and spur organisational growth. Likewise, employees should prioritise L&D to safeguard their role and make themselves an invaluable asset to their organisation. This will be vital to create a highly skilled workforce that maintains the UK’s position at the forefront of the global tech sector.”

Michael McCartney, Employment Partner at Fladgate, comments:

“Meta’s announcement that it plans to make significant job cuts in response to the current macro-economic environment comes very soon after similar cuts were imposed by Elon Musk following his purchase of Twitter, demonstrating that there is a real impact on advertising revenues in the social media sphere. It would surprising if either company adopted the approach P&O Ferries deployed recently when it sacked 800 seafarer without prior warning. This is because UK employment law requires an employer to consult with elected representatives (or Trade Unions if there are any recognised) for a minimum period of 30 days, where it envisages 20 or more redundancies and, for at least 45 days, if that number exceeds 100 redundancies. The company is also required to send a notice called an HR1 form to the UK government and if it fails to do this, its directors run the risk of criminal liabilities.

“Social media firms (even more so than a travel company) are bound to be conscious of the negative publicity for any failure to comply with employment laws even if the financial penalty (which amounts to 13 weeks’ pay per employee) alone is not enough of a disincentive.”

Florence Brocklesby, Founder of employment law specialists Bellevue Law, comments:

“Redundancies are, sadly, a fact of life, and delivering difficult news is never easy.  But how a restructuring is conducted is hugely important, not only for those leaving the business but also for those who remain and the company’s wider reputation.  Good processes combined with humanity are key to navigating a challenging time safely and with dignity.

“Twitter’s handling of its current restructuring has shone a light on how redundancies in the tech sector should – and should not – be handled. Just a few days ago Twitter announced plans to let go of 50 percent of its staff, with swathes of employees finding themselves suddenly locked out of company systems. Meta needs to avoid making those same mistakes today.”

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.