Contractors are encouraged to look for another job if they aren’t comfortable returning to office
Depending on who you ask, Google’s workforce mostly consists of contractors rather than employees, though nobody can be sure since the company has never released details regarding its workers’ structures. It turns out that on top of contractors inherently not enjoying the same benefits as employees, this part of the workforce also doesn’t have the same privileges when it comes to work-from-home options. Contractors requesting to work from home are essentially asked to start looking for a job elsewhere.
As reported by Bloomberg, the issue is exemplified by the situation of Google Maps workers in the Seattle area. Here, Google’s labor vendors have told contractors that they need to return to offices starting June 6, with little to no room left for those concerned about their health or the rising cost of commuting. A worker concerned about contracting Covid-19 following four lung surgeries and thus looking for an exemption to work from home was denied, with an HR representative claiming that they should start looking for a job elsewhere.
Other workers have similar concerns, and a few have joined forces to start a petition, asking “to retain the option to WFH until our concerns are adequately addressed and we have created and approved a flexible plan for all workers in our office.” They are citing concerns such as health, rising cost of childcare and commuting, with some possibly not able to afford the costs associated with working at the office anymore. Meanwhile, the Google contractor in question claims that the return to office policy includes the option to work from home, though it depends on the contractors’ work and the requirements of its clients.
By now, the Alphabet Workers Union has also taken the matter into its hands. It is demanding that Google sets better standards for contractor payments and takes their issues seriously. However, Google doesn’t formally recognize the Alphabet Workers Union, so the question is how much of its involvement can change.
Google is just one of many companies pushing for its workers to return to office. Due to employee pushback, the company has had to postpone its new hybrid work model for months, with Google first wanting contractors and employees to return to offices late last year. In contrast to contractors, it looks like employees are more successful at negotiating the specifics of their hybrid work models, with Google allowing exemptions and more flexibility than contractors.
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