A Google manager recommended the company fire 7 temporary workers rather than give them benefits, a report says

A Google manager recommended the company fire 7 temporary workers rather than give them benefits, a report says
An employee walks past the Google logo. Ng Han Guan/AP Photo
  • The New York Times and The Guardian reported that Google underpaid contract workers.
  • A Google manager recommended firing seven contract workers to avoid giving them benefits, per the report.
  • The company said it hired six full-time and dismissed one with three months' pay.

A Google manager recommended firing a group of contract workers rather than giving them benefits such as sick pay, according to a joint report from The New York Times and The Guardian into the company's so-called "shadow workforce."

The Netherlands introduced a law in 2019 entitling contract workers to the same benefits as their salaried peers. The Times saw an email from Google compliance manager Alan Barry addressing the change, which affected at least seven contract workers.

"This is a situation we ought to avoid," Barry said in his email, and recommended Google fire the seven contract workers, per the report.

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Google only dismissed one of the contract workers, with three months' pay, and hired the rest to full-time positions, the company told The Times.

The company also underpaid contract workers, according to the report. Google's compliance department realised it was underpaying workers but chose not to immediately compensate them, according to the report.


Google's chief compliance officer Spyro Karetsos told Insider in a statement that the company will conduct a review of how it pays its contractors.

"We're doing a thorough review, and we're committed to identifying and addressing any pay discrepancies that the team has not already addressed. And we'll be conducting a review of our compliance practices in this area. In short, we're going to figure out what went wrong here, why it happened, and we're going to make it right," Karetsos said.

Contract workers make up a massive chunk of Google's workforce - in 2020, The New York Times reported the company had 130,000 contracted or temporary workers, compared to 123,000 permanent staff.

Some Google contractors have said they are treated as second-class workers by the tech giant. In 2019, a group of contracted Google workers in Pittsburgh unionized, saying they received less pay and far fewer perks than their salaried colleagues.

Insider's Nick Bastone reported in 2019 that contract workers were blocked from communicating with full-time employees, had to wear red badges, and were not allowed to invite friends and family to lunch.