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Facebook improves workers welfare in wake of breakup call

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Facebook has said it would be improving on the welfare of its contractors and content reviewers, following call by its co-founder to breakup the company.

Facebook’s Janelle Gale, VP of HR and Arun Chandra, VP of Scaled Operations made this known in an update on compensating and supporting Facebook’s contractors.

“The work we do to connect people around the world would not be possible without the talented and dedicated people who do contract work at Facebook.

“They are employed by outside vendor partners to work either part-time or full-time and provide important services across content review, security, culinary, transportation and other teams. We value their work immensely.

“Today we’re committing to pay everyone who does contract work at Facebook in the US a wage that’s more reflective of local costs of living.

“And for those who review content on our site to make sure it follows our community standards, we’re going even further.

“We’re going to provide them a higher base wage, additional benefits, and more supportive programs given the nature of their jobs,” the update read.

Recall in 2015, the social media company introduced a new set of standards for people who do contract work in the US, including: a $15 minimum wage; a minimum 15 paid days off for holidays, sick time and vacation; and, for new parents that don’t receive paid leave, a $4,000 new child benefit that gives them the flexibility to take paid parental leave.

“Since 2016, we’ve also required vendors in the US to provide comprehensive healthcare to all of their employees assigned to Facebook.

“In the years since, it’s become clear that $15 per hour doesn’t meet the cost of living in some of the places where we operate.

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“After reviewing a number of factors including third-party guidelines, we’re committing to a higher standard that better reflects local costs of living.

“This means a raise to a minimum of $20 per hour in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City and Washington, D.C., and $18 per hour in Seattle,” the company said.

Facebook revealed it would be implementing these changes by mid-next year and that it was also working to develop similar standards for other countries.

“For workers in the US that review content on Facebook, we are raising wages even more.

“Their work is critical to keeping our community safe, and it’s often difficult. That’s why we’ve paid content reviewers more than minimum wage standards, and why we will surpass this new living wage standard as well.

“We’ll pay at least $22 per hour to all employees of our vendor partners based in the Bay Area, New York City and Washington, D.C.; $20 per hour to those living in Seattle; and $18 per hour in all other metro areas in the US.

“As with all people who do contract work, we’re working to develop similar international standards. This work is ongoing, and we’ll continue to review wages over time,” Facebook said.

Beyond pay, the social media company is taking steps to better support the well-being and resilience of the teams that review content.

“All content reviewers — whether full-time employees or those employed by partner companies — have access to well-being and resiliency resources. This includes onsite trained professionals for individual and group counseling.

“And as with all people doing contract work, content reviewers also have comprehensive health care benefits.

“We want to go further, and we are rolling out the first of many new programs and tools developed based on feedback from psychologists on our global resiliency team and from content reviewers themselves:

“We’re working with our vendor partners to deliver ongoing well-being and resiliency training. It’s important to make sure that every person on these teams has the skills they need to care for themselves and for each other.

“For the first time, we’re adding preferences that let reviewers customize how they view certain content.

“For example, they can now choose to temporarily blur graphic images by default before reviewing them.

“We made these changes after hearing feedback that reviewers want more control over how they see content that can be challenging.

“We’re now requiring all vendor partners to provide on-site counseling during all hours of operations, not just certain hours of each shift.

“We’re rolling out a resiliency survey to all partner sites around the world to get a better sense of the needs of our reviewers. We’ll do these surveys twice a year and use the results to shape our programs and practices.

“Last month, we hosted our first annual vendor partner summit at Facebook’s Menlo Park Headquarters.

“Over 200 representatives from our vendor partners around the world joined us to discuss these changes and consider other ways we can better support our content reviewers.

“We heard great feedback and will continue to make important changes moving forward as these conversations continue.

“We’re working to make contracts across our Global Operations vendor partners consistent.

“This includes requirements like quality-focused incentives, no sub-contracting, overtime and premiums for nightshifts and weekends, and healthcare that meets the standards of the Affordable Care Act in the US and appropriate healthcare standards internationally.

“It’s also really important that workers are being heard. We’re kicking off a biannual audit and compliance program this year for content review teams. This includes formal audits, unannounced onsite checks, and vendor partner self-reporting.

“We also have a whistleblower hotline where anyone who does contract work — including content reviewers — can raise concerns directly to Facebook.

“We’re working to make sure everyone knows about this hotline and feels empowered to use it.

“Content review at our size can be challenging and we know we have more work to do. We’re committed to supporting our content reviewers in a way that puts their well-being first and we will continue to share steps forward on this important topic,” the company said.

Facebook had been under fire from its co-founder Chris Hughes, who has been pushing for splitting of the company in three.

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