Google requiring temporary workers, contractors get health care coverage, parental leave

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Google said on Tuesday it will require its contracted and temporary workforce to receive full benefits, including comprehensive health care, paid parental leave and a $15 minimum wage, according to an internal memo provided exclusively to The Hill. 

The internet search giant’s vice president of people operations, Eileen Naughton, said in the memo to employees that Google will require that the workers receive the benefits by 2022. 

{mosads}Google’s announcement comes the same day that a group of 915 Google workers signed on to a letter demanding equal treatment for the company’s temporary workers and contractors, known internally as “TVCs.”

The letter, also obtained by The Hill, claims that temporary workers and contractors account for 54 percent of Google’s workforce, or 122,000 positions. Google declined to share how many of its employees are contractors and how many are full-time employees. 

For years, 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 now require that the outside companies employing the workers provide them with comprehensive health care, a minimum wage of $15 per hour, 12 weeks of parental leave and a minimum of eight days of sick leave. 

Google is beginning 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.  

Google is giving the “suppliers” — companies that employ the temporary workers and contractors — until January to institute the minimum wage requirements. A Google spokesperson said it will give suppliers until 2022 to institute comprehensive health care benefits.

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.” 

“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. 

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.

Google last year instituted a “supplier code of conduct” that specified some of Google’s 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. 

While Google previously required its suppliers to adhere to local minimum wage laws, it is now requiring that all suppliers pay their employees at least $15 per hour. 

Google will also require 12 weeks of parental leave for birth parents, non-birth parents and adoptive parents, according to the memo. 

Finally, it will require that all suppliers offer $5,000 per year in tuition reimbursement for workers who hope to learn “new skills or take courses.”

“These are meaningful changes, and we’re starting in the U.S., where comprehensive healthcare and paid parental leave are not mandated by U.S. law,” Naughton wrote in the 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,” she wrote. 

Updated at 1:59 P.M.

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