Apple Inc. has laid off dozens of its contract-based recruiters in the past week, as the world’s most valuable company joins other tech companies to rein in hiring and spending.
The rare move by the iPhone maker also underscores fears of a slowdown in tech spending as well as that in the broader economy.
Apple, however, has not fired all the contractors as part of the move. The company is retaining recruiters who are responsible for hiring full-time employees. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant employs more than 150,000 people across the world.
Bloomberg reported that Apple has let go around 100 contract workers who were responsible for hiring new staff for the iPhone maker. It has not identified the source of the information, citing privacy of the situation. The workers, spread across many regions including at Apple offices in Texas and Singapore, were told that changes in the company’s current business needs necessitated the latest lay-offs.
The employee badges of the terminated workers were disabled and they would be given pay and medical benefits for two weeks. Apple had earlier fired a large group of contract workers in 2019 in Ireland but that was done under different circumstances.
At the time, Apple had been relying on several hundred contract workers to listen to recordings of the conversations of its Siri voice assistant to help improve the product. Subsequently, it laid off many of those contract workers, as Apple had to scale down the program in response to privacy concerns. Prior to that, it had also fired some contractors in 2015 while working on the Apple Park campus.
Apple, like many other companies, employs contract workers for tasks such as customer service, technical support, localizing products and improving its Maps service. The contract workers typically receive fewer benefits and protections than those given to the full-time workers of the organization.
With respect to fresh hiring, Apple has now joined many other tech companies who have slowed down their pace of hiring in recent weeks, after years of aggressively staffing up. The chief executive officer of Apple, Tim Cook confirmed during a recent earnings conference call that the company would be more “deliberate” in its spending, even as it keeps investing in other areas.
“We believe in investing through the downturn and so we’ll continue to hire people and invest in areas, but we are being more deliberate in doing so, in recognition of the realities of the environment”, Cook told analysts.
Many tech companies including Google, Microsoft Corp, Oracle Corp, Meta Platforms and Twitter have put brakes on their hiring activities in recent times, in response to fears of an imminent recession in the economy. Besides, uncertainties in the global geopolitical and economic landscape are compelling many organizations to adjust their business and financial outlook.
While the hiring freeze at tech companies have yet to turn into mass lay-offs, those currently employed many still find themselves battling stagnant salaries, below-inflation increments and higher commuting costs linked to spiraling fuel prices.
Although it is too soon to say if more significant lay-offs will follow, the recent spate of hiring freezes could be the beginning of the same and may leave the prospects of tech workers a little more uncertain.