But last year, in a company email, a Google manager said it appeared that 16 additional countries, including Brazil, Canada, Australia and Mexico, had some form of equal treatment laws for temps that the company had not properly recognized and had not taken any extra steps to be compliant with the local laws.
As more countries introduce new regulations, Google is being forced to take action. In 2019, the Netherlands passed a law that requires Google’s staffing agencies to provide temps with the same benefits as the company’s permanent employees, such as sick pay, maternity and other paid leaves, health care and stock grants. This change affected at least seven Google temp workers in the country.
“This is a situation we ought to avoid,” Mr. Barry, Google’s compliance manager, wrote in an email to colleagues. He recommended that Google fire all seven workers before the law went into effect in 2020. Ultimately, Google said it had decided to hire six of the temp workers to full-time positions for the remainder of their contracts. The other worker was let go but with three months’ pay, according to the company.
In recent years, Google has sought ways to cut back its use of temporary workers. In 2018, it started Project Brightlight, an initiative that included a review of whether jobs were being categorized correctly as part of “labor model reset.”
In one internal 2021 email, a Google executive said the company had reduced the number of temps by 2,700 since 2018. Most of those positions were outsourced, the email said, while 750 temps were converted to full-time employees.
The project also sought to establish pay parity for temps with permanent employees doing similar jobs in the United States by 2019.
In a preliminary 2019 study to weigh the financial impact of taking this step in the United States, where Google employs more than half of its temp workers, the company estimated that it would cost up to $52 million to bring pay for 4,000-plus temporary workers up to the minimum pay of a newly hired permanent employee.
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