Ex-Twitter employees remain in limbo with thousands of expenses after Elon Musk fired and ultimatum exodus

When Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, decided to lay off half the employees of the company he had just bought for $44 billion, it was clear that there would be problems.

But in some cases, those who were told their services were no longer needed have faced a double humiliation: They are owed thousands of dollars from the company and have no idea when they will be reimbursed.

The scale of Musk’s layoffs — which have now expanded to include the firing of people who criticized him publicly or privately — has plunged former employees into a kind of financial purgatory. And an emailed ultimatum from Musk to employees demanding they work harder or leave appears to have backfired Thursday night, sparking a mass exodus and even fewer employees to run operations at the company.

“People made expenses for October, when we were all employed… they didn’t come through,” says a former UK Twitter employee who wished to remain anonymous and was fired as part of Musk’s first layoffs in early November. Fortune. The employee has about $1,000 in unpaid expenses, but says they know others who have up to £4,000 ($4,750) in travel expenses that have not been reimbursed.

Those charges were incurred on American Express credit cards, and those employees are now responsible for late payments.

Screenshots of days-old discussions on the company’s internal Slack channels, reviewed by Fortune shows several people asking about missing expense reimbursements and confused about how the process works for laid-off employees.

“I know there are several people in this channel asking questions, but I’m getting more and more people on my team asking what the update is regarding expenses,” one contributor wrote.

“Very concerned about how long this is taking,” another employee wrote.

Former employees say group chats are filled with ex-colleagues advising people to pay off outstanding amounts to avoid late payment penalties, but it’s not that simple.

“Some people say, ‘I don’t have that money,'” the former British Twitter employee says Fortune. “‘I relied on Twitter to give it to me.’ People are in very difficult situations here.”

Payments and expenses to Twitter are submitted through a system called Concur, pre-approved by an artificial intelligence, and then sent to a manager for signature. If the expense is approved by the manager, it will be processed and paid in about a week.

The expenses owed by some laid-off employees were processed three weeks ago, before Musk took over the company. “Not only has it not [been paid out], but it has disappeared from Concur,” says the former British employee. “There are a lot of people at Signal channels who are very afraid of not getting back between £400 and £8,000 in expenses.”

Former employees have been frantically sending emails to addresses given them after being cut from the company to try and understand how to get those expenses paid – with no luck.

“Obviously everyone has been fired,” says the former employee. “So no one gets any responses. I don’t know what is happening now.”

Earlier this week, Musk sent an email to the remaining staff in the middle of the night telling them they could commit to a new “extremely hardcore” work culture at the company, or leave. About 1,000 to 1,200 additional employees are believed to have left the company as of an ultimatum on Thursday night, and it’s unclear how many people remain on the social media site.

That’s what a current American Twitter employee who still works for the company told me Fortune that one of his expense reports had been approved but not paid. Another was not approved by their manager because their manager was fired.

“The answer we’ve gotten is that they’ve been swamped since everyone rushed to file expenses as soon as the layoffs came out,” he said. Fortune. He estimates he owes nearly $1,000.

“A lot of people probably owe a lot [because] many used wellness and learning allowances,” the current Twitter employee said. “Also heard of people going off-sites or traveling, so they may have it worse.”

Twitter currently has no communications department, so Fortune could not reach for comment.

This story was originally on Fortune.com

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