The company realized months ago that it could be running afoul of pay laws in a number of countries but has been slow to fix the problem, according to internal documents. From a report: In December, a group of Google managers responsible for overseeing thousands of its temporary staff members discovered the company had been underpaying some of those workers for years. The gap in so-called benchmark rates between what it paid full-time employees and temporary workers doing similar work had widened significantly, according to internal company emails and documents reviewed by The New York Times. This was especially problematic in countries with so-called pay parity laws requiring the company to pay temporary workers the same wages as full-time employees in similar positions.
But Google’s lapse had gone undetected outside the company. The managers worried that fixing the shortfall by suddenly lifting hourly rates by 20 percent to 30 percent would call attention to the problem and invite negative publicity to a company already criticized for creating a two-tier work force of generously compensated full-time employees and less expensive temps and contractors who are easy to hire and fire. So Google landed on a fix that wouldn’t call as much attention to the problem: It decided to apply the correct rates for only new hires starting in 2021 but held off on more expensive, wholesale changes, according to company emails reviewed by The Times.
Alan Barry, a Google compliance manager based in Ireland, wrote in an email to colleagues that adjusting the rates for all of its temps was the correct move from a “compliance perspective.” However, doing so might increase the likelihood that its current temporary staff members could “connect the dots” about the reason behind the pay bump and place the staffing agencies who supply and pay the workers in “a difficult position, legally and ethically.” “The cost is significant and it would give rise to a flurry of noise/frustration,” Mr. Barry wrote. “I’m also not keen to invite the charge that we’ve allowed this situation to persist for so long that the correction required is significant.”