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Elon Musk’s X demands repayment from former Australian employees over currency conversion error

NEW DELHI: Elon Musk’s social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, is demanding that former Australian employees repay overpayments ranging up to $70,000 plus interest, due to an error in currency conversion. The company has indicated potential legal action if the amounts are not repaid.
According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, at least six ex-employees have received legal notices from X.These employees, who were made redundant more than 18 months ago, are being pursued for overpayments ranging from $1,500 to $70,000. The overpayments occurred because of a mistake in converting employee entitlements from US dollars to Australian dollars.
X claimed that the overpayments were related to the company’s employee share scheme and were caused by a significant error in currency conversion. In some instances, former employees received up to 2.5 times the amount they were entitled to. The Herald cited an email from X’s Asia-Pacific human resources department that was sent to many of the affected employees. “It has come to our attention that you received a significant overpayment in error in January 2023,” the email said. “We would be grateful if you could arrange the repayments to us…at your earliest convenience.”
The company also indicated that if the former employees did not repay the money, X reserves the right to commence proceedings to recover the overpayment “together with interest.” Despite these notices, none of the former staff have agreed to repay the money, as per the Sydney Morning Herald.
The payments in question involve shares that were provided to employees when they joined the company. These shares were valued at $82 ($US54.20) each, reflecting the price at which Musk acquired the company in 2022. However, due to the currency conversion errors during the payout process, some employees received significantly higher amounts than they were due.
In addition to pursuing the overpayments, X is reportedly attempting to recover company laptops from employees who were laid off over a year ago. Following Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the company experienced large-scale layoffs, with up to 80% of its workforce, including many Australian employees, being made redundant. At its peak, Twitter Australia employed about 40 people, but this number dwindled significantly after Musk’s acquisition.
The layoffs in Australia involved a significant number of the company’s safety accounts and coincided with the reinstatement of over 6,100 previously banned accounts. This move has been part of broader controversies involving Musk’s X in Australia.
In the past year, X faced a $600,000 fine from the eSafety Commissioner for failing to address questions regarding the prevention of child abuse material on its platform, which the company has yet to pay. The eSafety Commissioner also took X to Federal Court over its refusal to globally remove posts containing videos of the Wakeley church Sydney stabbing. Although X agreed to geo-block these posts in Australia, it refused to remove them elsewhere.
Last week, the eSafety Commissioner dropped the court action but announced plans to contest X’s movement in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have the removal notice dismissed. In response, X characterized this as a win for “freedom of speech.”
Musk’s X continues to grapple with multiple labor and workplace issues, including lawsuits alleging that the company failed to pay severance to thousands of workers dismissed after Musk’s $44 billion acquisition in 2022.

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