In a move to address economic disparities in Silicon Valley, Facebook is requiring its contractors to pay their workers at least $15 an hour and provide improved benefits.
The new rules cover food-service, security, and janitorial workers, among others, at Facebook’s U.S. facilities, a spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal, and took effect for its largest vendors on May 1. The program will expand to other contractors over the next year.
Facebook said it expects to swallow the cost of the new standards as vendors increase their rates. “We think it’s the right thing to do with our community and the right thing to do with our business,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said. “So we think it’s an expense worth bearing.”
She said women would particularly benefit from the new rules because they make up two-thirds of minimum-wage workers in the U.S.
In addition to the $15-an-hour minimum wage, the social network giant is requiring vendors to give workers who do a substantial amount of work with Facebook at least 15 paid days off annually for holidays, sick leave, and vacation. New parents will receive a $4,000 bonus if they don’t get paid parental leave.
The economic disparities in Silicon Valley have become an increasing concern, occasionally flaring into protests against tech workers. According to Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a regional think tank, the median annual income for high-skilled workers in the region is about $119,000, while the median income for low-skilled workers is about $27,000.
Google and Apple have recently said they will make security staffers full-time company employees with benefits.
“Facebook has led the way in this area,” said Rome Aloise, international vice president for the Teamsters union. “I think they’re being responsible employers” and other tech companies are taking note.
Facebook’s contract workers, though, will still lag behind what it offers employees. The company provides $4,000 in “baby cash,” in addition to paid parental leave, 21 days of vacation, 11 holidays, and unlimited sick days.