Apple tells workers they have the right to discuss wages and working conditions


An Apple logo is pictured in an Apple store in Paris, France, September 17, 2021. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File Photo

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SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 20 (Reuters) – Apple delivered a message to employees on Friday that was conspicuous given its reputation for secrecy: a reminder that workers can discuss wages, hours and working conditions.

The announcement came as some employees were pushing Apple to do more to ensure there weren’t any unfair pay gaps across the company.

In a post on an internal website, Apple said its policies do not prevent employees from speaking “freely” about working conditions, according to a copy of the message Reuters saw.

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“We encourage every employee who has concerns to discuss it in the way that he feels most comfortable internally or externally,” says the article.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple’s business conduct policy already contained wording that stated that workers were not restricted in their ability to talk about wages, hours and working conditions, which is generally protected under US law.

But employees who have spoken out in recent months have encountered resistance, said former Apple program manager Janneke Parrish.

Parrish, who was fired after playing a leadership role in employee activism, said she hoped Apple’s message would pave the way for others.

“The first step is to make sure people are aware of their rights,” she said.

Apple previously stated that it does not discuss specific employee matters and is “deeply committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace”.

The move comes amid wider pressures from Silicon Valley employees to speak up about their working conditions and the impact the technology has on society.

Earlier this week, another prominent activist, Apple software engineer Cher Scarlett, wrote on Twitter that she was leaving the company.

Scarlett filed a lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that Apple had suspended pay discussions among employees. Her lawyer, Aleksandr Felstiner, said the matter was resolved and the charges were being withdrawn. Scarlett said she couldn’t comment on that.

Scarlett and Parrish worked together on #AppleToo, a group where current and former employees shared stories about what they call harassment and discrimination.

Apple is known for its mysterious culture that aims to keep details of new products under wraps. Employees are sometimes unaware of their right to speak on issues such as pay and working conditions, Parrish said.

Ashley Gjovik, a senior engineering program manager who was fired from Apple in September after raising concerns about harassment and occupational safety, has brought charges with the NLRB alleging that Apple’s policies are in violation of the National Labor Relations Act .

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Reporting by Julia Love; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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