Google illegally underpaid thousands of workers across dozens of countries

Documents show company dragged feet to correct disparity after learning it was failing to comply with laws in UK, Europe and Asia

Google has been illegally underpaying thousands of temporary workers in dozens of countries and delayed correcting the pay rates for more than two years as it attempted to cover up the problem, the Guardian can reveal.

Google executives have been aware since at least May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate temporary workers be paid equal rates to full-time employees performing similar work, internal Google documents and emails reviewed by the Guardian show.

Google executives and attorneys at one point pursued a plan to come into compliance slowly and at the least possible cost to itself, despite acknowledging that such a move was not “the correct outcome from a compliance perspective” and could place the staffing companies it contracts with “in a difficult position, legally and ethically”.

Google admitted the failures and said it would conduct an investigation after being contacted by the Guardian.

More than 30 countries, including the UK, the EU member statesIndia and Taiwan, have enacted “pay parity” or “equal treatment” laws that require temporary workers to be treated equally to full-time employees (FTEs) who perform the same or similar work, according to Google’s internal guidance on the laws. The US, where the majority of Google’s temps are based, does not have any such protections.

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