Google requires full benefits for contractors, temporary workers - Activate World

Google requires full benefits for contractors, temporary workers

Google says it will require its contracted and temporary workforce to receive full benefits including comprehensive healthcare, paid parental leave, and a $15 minimum wage according to an internal memo provided to The Hill. Google’s announcement came the same day that 915 Google workers signed a letter demanding equal treatment for the company’s temporary workers and contractors, known internally as “TVCs.”

Lunchtime Conversations:

  • Google has more contract employees than full-time employees. Is this the new tech business model? What impact will this have on individuals?
  • Temporary contractors affected by sudden March layoffs said in a letter, “during the process, our managers and the full-time workers on our team were silent. Google told them that offering support or even thanking us for years of work would make the company legally liable.” From a moral standpoint, should these workers have been treated with more consideration and compassion? How could this have been handled differently? 
  • With 36 percent of the workforce classified as freelancers, will freelancers continue to grow, and how will this impact companies in the future?


  • Google last year instituted a “supplier code of conduct” that specified some of its expectations. Tuesday’s announcement expands and specifies what Google will require if a company wants to contract with Google. 
  • The company will require that suppliers offer comprehensive health care for workers and their dependents that “includes hospitalization, preventative and wellness services, laboratory and emergency services, prescription drugs, mental health services, labor and delivery, newborn and pediatric services, oral and vision care, rehabilitative and habilitative care, and counseling,” according to the memo.
  • Google’s vice president of people operations, Eileen Naughton, wrote in Tuesday’s memo, “As we learn from our implementation here, we’ll identify and address areas of potential improvement in other areas of the world. Stay tuned for more to come as we continue our work in this area.”


To be clear, Google is requiring that outside companies employing its temporary and contract workers give them comprehensive health care, a minimum wage of $15 per hour, 12 weeks of parental leave, and a minimum of eight days of sick leave, according to the internal memo obtained by The Hill.

These suppliers have until January of 2020 to comply with the minimum wage and until 2022 to offer health benefits. Google also stipulates that all suppliers kick in $5,000 per year toward tuition reimbursement for learning “new skills or taking courses.”

“If folks don’t meet the standards by the deadline, then business decisions will need to be made, and then we’ll need to continue to audit our suppliers through perpetuity to make sure that people are still meeting those standards,” the spokeswoman said. 

If the suppliers fail to offer health care, minimum wage and paid family leave to their employees by that deadline, a Google spokeswoman told The Hill they would no longer “be able to provide talent to Google.” 

Although The Hill says Google declined to give specific numbers, the employees’ letter claimed that temps and contractors make up over half (54%) of Google’s workforce, or 122,000 positions.

Although Google is known for its high salaries and perks, the company’s “shadow workforce” of temporary, vendor and contract workers many of whom who are employed through outside firms like Adecco and Cognizant, typically make less, lack job security, and have to shell out higher costs for benefits. For years in public protests, Google employees have raised concerns that the company’s workplace is stratified, with temporary workers and contractors receiving lower pay and fewer benefits than permanent employees.

Google will begin the efforts in the U.S., where there are not specific regulations around paid parental leave or comprehensive health care. Other countries in which the company operates have specific legislation around paid parental leave and other benefits. The company said it made sense to start in the U.S. because Google is setting a standard.

The benefits will not extend to independent contractors, who are self-employed, but they will extend to “vendors,” employees that work for companies that are under contract with Google. “Vendors” include those who work in Google’s cafes, transportation services and more.

Sources: Fast CompanyForbesThe Guardian, The HillCNBC

Photo by Rajeshwar Bachu on Unsplash