Meta staff came to Singapore on employment passes only to be retrenched months later

WHAT HAPPENED ON NOV 10 Employees in Meta’s Singapore office, which is home to its Asia-Pacific headquarters, were notified of the layoffs in the early hours of Nov 10. Ms Susmita Sahu, a technical source in Meta’s recruitment department, started seeing tears upon the email. “Waking up that day I was very devastated … I spoke with people who were affected. Everybody’s voices were shaking, they could not talk about it,” the 29-year-old Indian national said. Her access to the office and to her company laptop was cut on the same day. Another ex-technical source, who wanted to be known by the initials EZ, said she was typing her goodbyes to colleagues on their work chat when her access was cut off. EZ, who moved from Shanghai in June, said her mind went blank upon seeing the dreaded email. Her phone started buzzing nonstop from around 7am that day, EZ said. “I woke up and checked my email (and I saw something) like ‘Unfortunately you are being included in this layoff’… I didn’t know what to think.” She immediately texted her team-mates. “I know some of my team-mates brought their families here… I was kind of worried for them. I didn’t know whether they got it or not… then I realized that everybody (in her team) got the same email,” EZ said. The news came as a shock as team leaders and managers had been telling staff that all was well, said EZ and Ms Susmita. Assurances were made even the day before the layoffs. Both have yet to receive their severance packages – about 2.7 months’ salary. The two did not get a chance to return to the office, and their belongings were sent to their homes. “I literally cried in front of (the delivery person) because I was very emotional seeing those things from my … office and he apologised. He was like: ‘We are sorry for what you’re going through, this is your stuff’ from the office’,” said Ms Susmita. She believes that Meta’s recruitment department was the worst hit in Singapore, with about 120 employees getting the ax. While both Ms Susmita and EZ came to Singapore alone, others they know had brought families, including children. The retrenched employees were all placed on gardening leave until Dec 10. Meta has since provided affected staff with life coaches and career transition programs to help with resume building and finding jobs, according to both women.

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