Apple employees say it’s harder than ever to get remote work requests approved after the company rolls out a new hybrid model that will require people to return to the office three days a week from the start September. Some employees say they will resign if Apple doesn’t change its stance.
While Apple historically discouraged employees from working from home, there were one-time exceptions to the rule, and some teams were more forgiving than others. Now employees say even these exceptions are denied. In a Slack corporate channel where employees advocate remote working, around 10 people said they quit due to the hybrid work policy or knew others who had been forced to quit. The Slack channel currently has over 6,000 members.
In a remote work survey conducted by employees in June, 36.7% of those polled said they feared having to leave Apple because of a lack of flexibility (1,735 people answered the question).
The return-to-work plan has already been a flashpoint at Apple, where employees wrote a letter in June asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to reassess the hybrid model. Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of retail and people, sent a video in response saying in-person collaboration was “essential” and noting that the company would not back down on its current approach.
While Apple corporate workers certainly have more flexibility than retail staff, some say it’s out of step with other big tech companies in Silicon Valley. Twitter and Facebook have already announced a permanent work-from-home policy, and Apple employees say they’ve been inundated with recruiting posts from other tech organizations considering a potential opportunity.
An employee said he was currently provided with accommodation under the United States Disability Act that allowed them to work from home, but was told that accommodation would be denied when the company returned to the office. “I’ll be out of a job in September,” they wrote in Slack.
Apple typically gives employees 30 days to find new employment with the company if their current team refuses medical accommodation. But a worker told Slack there are no remote positions open.
Some employees say they were told that only people with documented health issues would be approved for permanent remote work. But the form that Apple employees use to request such an accommodation asks them to release their medical records to the company, which has made some people uncomfortable.
Now employees are discussing how to get Apple’s attention. Some suggested writing another letter to reiterate their concerns, while others discussed discussing with lawyers about a possible lawsuit.
Apple declined to comment for this story.