Google is supplying full-time staff with rapid COVID-19 tests while contractors must wait for slower mail-in results

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Google is supplying full-time staff with rapid COVID-19 tests while contractors must wait for slower mail-in results
Google's temp workers have to go into the office to conduct a test.Getty Images
  • Google gives full-time staff rapid COVID-19 tests, while temps go without.
  • Temporary workers have to go into Google's offices to perform PCR tests, and wait days for results.
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Google is supplying its full-time employees with instant COVID-19 tests — but its army of temporary workers and contractors must go through a slower process.

Since December 2020, Google has offered full-time employees free rapid COVID-19 tests that can be administered at home, via Cue Health, and which deliver results in minutes.

But its temporary contractors must report to Google's offices in-person to do a PCR test, which is then mailed to healthtech firm BioIQ, and results are delivered in the following days.

COVID-19 tests are in short supply in the US, with Americans having to pay more for rapid tests or facing long lines.

Google's provision of free tests to its full-time workforce has also reignited discussions about the way it treats its temporary workers.

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In a statement, Ashok Chandwaney, a lead organizer for minority union Alphabet Workers Union, criticized Google for its reliance on a "two-tiered workforce," and called on the company to make rapid testing available to temporary workers.

"The AWU will continue to organize to end Google's use of this segregative and discriminatory two-tiered workforce," he said.

A company spokesperson told Bloomberg: "We have many at-home and in-person viral testing options available free to our employees and members of our extended workforce, including temps and vendors."

Google's cadre of temps, contractors, and external vendors, known internally as TVCs, make up around half of the company's 120,000-strong workforce, but typically earn less than their full-time colleagues and miss out on perks like paid vacation time.

Unlike full-timers, they also do not receive stock options as part of their compensation, and aren't able to request things like an extra computer monitor through the company's internal system.

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The division has proven contentious. Insider has previously reported that TVCs often hope to be hired full-time, but complain that being locked out of certain systems prevents them from doing their jobs properly. Full-time Googlers also demand that their temp counterparts are treated better, the New York Times reported in 2019.

Google has previously been accused of failing to properly compensate thousands of TVCs around the world. In September, The New York Times and The Guardian reported the tech giant had violated pay-parity laws in parts of Europe and Asia, where companies are required to pay both full-time and temporary workers equitable wages.

Google's compliance department reportedly discovered the mistake in May 2019, but chose not to provide the $100 million or so in back pay owed to temporary staff, instead only correcting rates for new employees in the hopes of avoiding legal trouble.

In a blog post written at the time, Google launched an internal review and admitted the situation had not been "handled consistent with the high standards to which we hold ourselves as a company."

Insider approached Google for further comment.

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