Facebook won't penalize staff taking part in May 1 political protests

- Amid a heated political climate and with U.S. immigration policies in flux, this year's upcoming International Workers' Day protests on May 1st are expected to be among the largest in recent years.

Here in the Bay Area, social media giant Facebook says it has a vocal employee base and that it will hold to its longstanding policy to allow employees to take time off of work and will not retaliate if a worker chooses to take part in a political protest.

Bloomberg has reported that Facebook is also taking it a step further and will investigate any of its on-campus contractors if they illegally prevent their employees from exercising their protesting rights.

"We're committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up," Facebook told Bloomberg in an emailed statement.

“We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions,” the statement continued.

A Facebook official stressed to KTVU that the social media company does not have an official statement on upcoming May Day actions, only that it has always encouraged an open culture and supports its employees' rights to free speech. 

The company also noted that it has a generous paid time off policy and that staff can use PTO if they choose to skip work to take part in a demonstration.

Monday's May Day protests will come on the heels of President Trump's executive order last week aimed at discouraging U.S. businesses from hiring workers from abroad.

The “Buy American and Hire American” order seeks to tighten restrictions on H-1B visas.

The visa program is commonly associated with the tech industry and was established to allow businesses to hire college educated immigrants to fill specialized jobs.

Many Silicon Valley companies including Facebook have benefited from the guest worker program.

An analysis of U.S. Labor Department filings found more 15 percent of Facebook's employees in 2016 used a temporary work visa.

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