revealed The Guardian reported that Google was illegally underpaying thousands of temporary workers in dozens of countries and delayed correcting wage rates for more than two years while trying to cover up the problem.
Executives at the search giant have been aware since at least May 2019 of the company’s failure to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate paying temporary workers equal wages to full-time employees who perform similar work.
But rather than correcting mistakes, the company has slowed down for more than two years, the documents show, citing concern about increased costs for departments that rely heavily on temporary workers, potential exposure to legal claims, and fear of negative press attention.
Google executives and lawyers at one point pursued a plan to comply slowly and at the lowest possible cost to itself.
This was done despite acknowledging that such a move was not a valid outcome from a compliance perspective and could put the recruiters you contract with in a difficult legal and ethical position.
The company admitted the failure and said it was conducting an investigation after being contacted by the Guardian newspaper.
While the team has not raised the benchmark for comparison rates for some years, the actual pay rates for temporary employees have increased several times over in that period, Spiro Karitsos, Google’s chief compliance officer, said in a statement. Most temporary employees are paid well above comparable rates.
He added, “However, it is clear that this process has not been handled in line with the high standards we are committed to as a company. We are conducting a comprehensive review. We are committed to identifying and addressing any pay discrepancies that the team has not addressed. We are reviewing our compliance practices in this area. We find out what went wrong here, why it happened, and we correct it.
A whistleblower represented by the Whistleblower Assistance Program filed a complaint about the alleged violations with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
While international labor law does not fall within the purview of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the complaint alleges that Google’s failure to disclose equal pay obligations, which it estimates could be as high as $100 million, constitute material errors in its quarterly financial reports, a violation of securities law. American Finance.
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Google underpaying temporary workers
The disclosure demonstrates that the company violated labor laws around the world and misled investors about major legal and financial obligations.
The problem stems from Google’s extensive reliance on what it calls an expanded workforce. In addition to a large number of local laws that govern how these workers are treated in the dozens of countries in which the company operates.
The search giant maintains a workforce of more than 100,000 temporary employees who do not work directly within the company. But they do the work for her, with tasks ranging from food service and security to programming and data analysis.
The vast majority of these workers work on long-term projects that are entirely managed by the supplier company. Like moderating content, they don’t interact much with Google employees.
The company also employs thousands of temporary workers at any given time. While they are paid by recruitment agencies, temporary employees report directly to Google managers.
Divisions that rely heavily on temporary workers include recruitment and marketing and Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle company. The company spends about $800 million annually on temporary workers globally.
The use of temporary workers is common in the technology industry. But Google’s reliance on an expanding workforce outnumbering its direct employee base has long drawn criticism.
More than 30 countries have enacted equal pay laws. which require temporary workers to be treated on an equal footing with full-time employees who perform the same or similar work.
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