In Ireland, Facebook content moderators met with Deputy Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, to demand work-from-home rights. The moderators allege that the company forced them back into the office, despite the spike in COVID-19 cases.
“We should be working from home just like employees. We should have the same mental health care they get, the same benefits—but we don’t. Facebook can’t exist without us, and it should stop treating us as second-class citizens,” according to Ibrahim Halawa, a former political prisoner, law student, and now a Facebook content moderator via The Verge.
In August 2020, Facebook told its employees that they could work from home until July 2021. However, two months later, the company told content moderators working for the subcontracting firm CPL in Dublin to go back to the office.
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This is because Facebook categorises the content moderators as essential workers, according to The Guardian. High-risk contractors were exempt from the directive, but those who have vulnerable family members still had to comply.
And although Facebook told the Moderators that the office would close for 72 hours if there was a confirmed COVID-19 case, The Guardian reports that it remained open even after three cases.
A Spokesperson for Covalen, a CPL subsidiary in a statement said: “Employees with underlying conditions are not required to work from the office, they are working on content that can be reviewed at home. Some employees who are living with vulnerable people are also working from home, this is reviewed on a case by case basis”.
Facebook in an emailed statement said its priority throughout the pandemic is health and safety. “Our priority for people in any of our offices is their health and safety, which is why we have strict measures in place and work to make sure they’re followed,” the statement read.
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