- Tesla has laid off employees or put them on furlough in each of the past three years.
- The moves have left some Tesla employees with doubts about their job security.
- “We feel like there’s an axe over our head every day at Tesla,” said a current salesperson who works on the West Coast. “They lay off with no notice. They’re just notorious for that.”
- Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
In 2018 and 2019, Tesla laid off 7% and 9% of its workforce, respectively, despite CEO Elon Musk’s promise after the 2018 cuts that the company would never again make a similar move. A month after the 2019 layoffs, Tesla told its salespeople it was planning to close most of its stores.
The company walked back from that position a few weeks later, but not before shuttering 10% of its stores and saying 20% of the remaining locations were be considered for closure. By the end of 2019, Tesla’s workforce of 48,016 employees was slightly smallerthan at the end of the prior year, when the company had 48,817 employees.
The workforce-trimming has left some Tesla employees feeling that their jobs aren’t entirely safe. Four current salespeople told Business Insider they have doubts about their job security. (All four asked for anonymity due to a fear of retaliation from Tesla, but their identities are known to Business Insider.)
“We feel like there’s an axe over our head every day at Tesla,” said a current salesperson who works on the West Coast. “They lay off with no notice. They’re just notorious for that.”
When Musk told all of Tesla’s employees in March that they could stay home if they were sick or worried about the coronavirus, three salespeople said they were still worried about the potential consequences of staying home for too long.
“Say that Tesla has to make decisions about who to keep because there’s less demand,” a salesperson from the Midwest said in March. “In that circumstance, they would probably prefer to keep the people who kept coming when they were at risk of being sick, rather than the people who stayed home.”
About a month later, Tesla put around half of its sales and delivery team on furlough, according to CNBC, amid temporary, company-wide pay cuts that followed an industry-wide disruption to vehicle sales and production. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on how many of those put on furlough have returned to work or the reactions of salespeople who have come to doubt their job security.
“When they had to put us on unpaid leave, we realized now that our job is not really that secure,” said a second salesperson who works on the West Coast.