Ukrainian Tesla employees who are asked to return to defend their country will receive pay for at least three months, according to an e-mail the company sent on Monday to employees in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. It wasn’t clear from the email whether this benefit would be extended to employees in North America and elsewhere.
After three months, Tesla plans to re-assess the Russia-Ukraine war and their employees’ situations to decide what more will be needed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called up reservists to fight back in February, preceding the anticipated invasion.
In the Monday email — sent on the 12th day after Russia invaded Ukraine — Tesla employees were also praised for helping SpaceX, the aerospace venture also led by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, to bring its Starlink satellite internet service to Ukraine.
Among other things, Tesla’s Energy team assembled and provided lithium ion battery energy storage systems, known as Tesla Powerwalls, to run Starlink equipment in Ukraine.
Tesla employees used inverters and charging cables that were donated by Tesla’s certified installers in the area to assemble the Starlink-and-Powerwall systems. They also fashioned AC cables from scrap at Tesla’s new factory being built outside of Berlin to help power Starlink equipment.
Although Tesla does not operate in Ukraine, the company said in the e-mail that about 5,000 Tesla owners in the country, and other EV drivers, could obtain free vehicle charging at some of its Supercharger stations in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.
Tesla is not alone in navigating impacts to employees and its own business in the wake of the Russian war on Ukraine.
Automakers like General Motors and Ford in the US moved quickly to suspend their business in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Stellantis announced on March 2 that it had established a support team that would operate around the clock to support and monitor the health and safety of the company’s 71 Ukraine-based employees.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here is the full text of the email, which was sent by Axel Tangen, Tesla’s director of Northern Europe, on behalf of the company’s HR director for the EMEA region, Mariam Khalifa, and senior director for Tesla EMEA, Joe Ward. The email was transcribed by CNBC with photos of Tesla employees and facilities removed for privacy.
Date: March 7, 2022 [Time redacted]
Subject: Conflict Support
From: Axel Tangen
Sharing this message from Joe Ward and Mariam Khalifa:
As you know, Tesla is committed to doing the right thing. Whilst the situation in Ukraine is evolving, we wanted to share with you what actions are being taken to support those impacted by the conflict.
Many folks have reached to understand how they can contribute, which is awesome. It’s important we show them how we as a company are helping, what resources we have in place, and how they can also proactively support themselves. Big thanks to all of the teams that have contributed to these efforts so far – true Tesla spirit on display.
*As a priority HR EMEA team members have been connecting with employees impacted as well as their managers to ensure we check in. We will continue to ensure we provide meaningful and targeted support for our employees.
For any Tesla employees who is a Ukrainian national and has been asked to return to Ukraine for active duty as a reservist, we will maintain their employment and salary for 3 months, with a view to assessing after this period as needed.
*Tesla has opened free Supercharging at stations bordering Ukraine to support those impacted by the recent invasion. Within hours of implementation, Tesla emailed local owners announcing that several Supercharger stations near Ukraine could be used by Tesla and non-Tesla electric vehicles, free of charge. Although Tesla does not officially operate within Ukraine, any of the country’s estimated 5,000 Tesla owners can access free Supercharging at select stations in Poland, Hungary Slovakia.
*Tesla teamed up with SpaceX to provide coverage expansion for its Starlink services to help provide an alternative internet infrastructure.
*Volunteers across the Giga Berlin and Germany Service team responded quickly on Sunday to test, configure, pack and ship several hundred Starlink units which have already been gratefully received by Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister. In true Tesla fashion, the solution has been put together in less than 3 days.
*On top of this the Energy team supplemented the Starlink roll out with a fleet Powerwalls. The system included PV inverters given by our Certified installer network, pre-made DC cables given by one of our Supercharger Installation Partners and AC cables made out of scrap from Giga Berlin. All of it assembled by a team of (40+) volunteers from across the EMEA organization, committed to doing what they can to support.
*In addition, we have reinforced Tesla EMEA Employee Assistance Programme. The Program offers counseling and numerous resources and support for employees.
Lastly, employees can of course support by making cash donations to reputable relief organizations responding in Ukraine, this is not an exhaustive list and you can of course make donation to an organization of your choice.
World Food Program
World Health Organization
If you have any further thoughts or ideas with regard to how we can be supporting our employees and those impacted by the crisis, please do not hesitate to connect with us.