Tesla CEO Elon Musk has set the record straight about the electric vehicle maker’s layoffs. Tesla’s efforts to optimize its workforce have been met with some confusion, partly due to Musk’s own updates about the matter. And with the layoffs now being reported across social media platforms such as LinkedIn, some Tesla employees have taken the legal route to complain about their termination.
Earlier this month, a leaked email from Musk revealed that the CEO was looking to cut off about 10% of the company’s workforce. Musk later clarified this statement, stating that the cuts would be implemented on salaried employees. The headcount for hourly employees would actually be increased. Musk also noted that Tesla would not be terminating employees that are working on key tasks such as vehicle and battery production.
During his virtual appearance at the Qatar Economic Forum on Tuesday, Musk was asked to clarify Tesla’s headcount reduction plans. Musk explained that Tesla actually grew too fast in some areas, so some reduction is pertinent for now. However, considering that salaried workers only comprise about 1/3 of the company’s employees, Musk noted that his 10% job cut estimate would result in just about a 3% to 3.5% reduction in Tesla’s total headcount.
“Tesla is reducing the salaried workforce roughly 10% over the next probably three months or so. We expect to grow our hourly workforce, and I should be quite clear that we expect to grow our hourly workforce. But we grew very fast on the salaried side. And we grew a little too fast in some areas, and so it requires a reduction in the salaried workforce.
“We’re about two-thirds hourly and one-third salary. So I guess technically, a 10% reduction in the salaried workforce is only roughly a 3%, 3.5% reduction in total headcount,” Musk said.
This past weekend, two former Tesla employees filed a lawsuit against the company. According to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Tesla had violated US labor laws when it initiated “mass layoffs’ in its workforce. As per the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, employers are required to provide 60 days of advance notice of a mass layoff or plant closure. This was reportedly not done in Tesla’s case.
Elon Musk, however, seemed to dismiss the lawsuit when asked about the topic at the Qatar Economic Forum. The CEO noted that the lawsuit “has no standing” and is of “minor consequence.” He added that anything Tesla-related typically gets a lot of attention, so even trivial legal efforts against the company are at times blown out of proportion.
“We did make an announcement on that. Let’s not read too much into a pre-emptive lawsuit that has no standing, that is a small lawsuit of minor consequence. Anything related to Tesla gets big headlines, whether it is, you know, a bicycle accident or something much more serious. It seems like anything related to Tesla gets a lot of clicks, whether it is trivial or significant.
“I would put that lawsuit you’re referring to in the trivial category. So a year from now, I think our headcount will be higher in both salary and obviously in hourly, but in the short term of the next few months, we expect to see, like I said, roughly a 10% reduction in salaried workforce, which is actually just really only a 3%, 3.5% reduction in total headcount and not super material,” Musk explained.
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