Google in lawmakers' crosshairs over alleged 'misuse' of temporary, contract workers

Allegations regarding search giant Google’s employment practices have caught the attention of Senate Democrats.

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Ten senators sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, requesting the search giant provide full-time employee status to contract and temporary employees who work with the company for six months – following allegations it "misuses" these third-party employees.

“The differences between the categories of workers appears to be in name only,” lawmakers said. “In the case of temporary workers, they are commonly working on permanent projects alongside full-time Google employees for years and typically at much lower pay than their full-time employee counterparts.”

The allegations were brought to the public’s attention by The New York Times, which alleged that the company not only has more part-time workers than full-time, but also that these people remain on for the long-term with workloads equal to directly-employed workers, but with different treatment.

The Times noted that Google employs 102,000 full-time workers and 121,000 temporary and contract workers.

Among the steps lawmakers want Google to take to rectify these claims are converting contractors and temporary workers to full-time employees after six months, wage and benefit parity, the elimination of all non-compete clauses in contracts, among other things – including its “acceptance of liability for any workplace violations that occur with temporary workers or independent contractors.”

“Google is valued at more than $100 billion, and your personal compensation topped $400 million in 2018, which makes it that much more difficult to stomach the mistreatment of these workers,” lawmakers added.

The Capitol Hill signatories included Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Senators had requested that the company respond by Friday, however, Google had already answered on Monday – and it “strongly” disagreed with the characterization of its employment practices.

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“Being a temporary worker is not intended to be a path to employment at Google, and because we want to be clear and upfront, this is a part of our written policies and the training that all Google employees managing temporary staff must take,” the company said, according to a copy of a letter sent by Eileen Naughton, vice president of People Operations at Google, to the senators in response.

Google also said it “engages only a handful of independent contractors,” and the company would be happy to discuss the issues further with lawmakers.