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Apple offers Austin relocation to 121 San Diego employees in office closure

A rendering of Apple's plans for its $1B Austin, Texas campus.

A 121-employee Siri team in San Diego is being disbanded, a report claims, with the Data Operations Annotations group being offered similar roles in Apple's Austin offices instead of being laid off.

Employees working at the Data Operations Annotations group in San Diego, which works to improve Siri by analyzing vocal queries from users, were told of major changes to their job on Wednesday, people with knowledge of the matter claim. The San Diego office is to close, but with Apple intending to retain as many staff from the team as possible.

The team will be integrated into their counterparts at a similar office in Austin, Texas, with the 121 San Diego employees offered to retain their jobs if they're willing to relocate, reports Bloomberg. Workers have until the end of February to decide, with terminations occurring in late April.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the relocation was to happen, with the Austin office being "where a majority of the team is already based." Additionally, "everyone currently employed will have the opportunity to continue their role with Apple in Austin."

Employees who elect for relocation will get a $7,000 stipend for the move. Those who choose to be laid off will get four weeks of severance pay, with an additional week for every year worked for the company, and six months of health insurance coverage.

The relocation was seemingly a surprise to the employees, as they had allegedly been told that they would be relocated to a new Apple campus in the area at the end of January. Apple also apparently handed out packing boxes in preparation for a relocation within the same city.

Report sources believe that many affected employees won't be taking up Apple's relocation offer. Furthermore, there is the feeling that, while those same workers can apply for other jobs within Apple, many on the team don't have the right engineering backgrounds to make a lateral job switch.

While the potential loss of up to 121 employees is a lot for Apple, it's far from the mass layoffs that occurred in Big Tech companies throughout 2023. While Meta, Amazon, and others cut tens of thousands of jobs collectively, Apple managed to avoid being part of the group, thanks in part to not over-hiring employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.