Google Reverses Minimum Wage and Benefits Policy for Suppliers, Citing Labor Regulations

Alphabet Inc’s Google announced its decision to roll back the requirement for U.S. suppliers and staffing firms to pay their employees a minimum of $15 an hour and provide health insurance and other benefits. This decision could potentially exempt the tech giant from engaging in collective bargaining with unions, Reuters news report said.
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A spokesperson for Google stated that the elimination of the 2019 policy, along with other measures such as restricting access to internal systems for temporary workers and vendors, is aimed at aligning with evolving U.S. and global labor regulations concerning contingent workers.

“These updates bring us in line with other large companies and simply clarify that Google is not, and has never been, the employer of our suppliers’ employees,” the spokesperson emphasized.

The announcement follows a ruling by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board in January, which categorized Google as a “joint employer” of workers sourced through staffing firm Cognizant Technology Solutions, thereby requiring the tech giant to engage in collective bargaining with their union. Google has filed an appeal against this decision.

The labor board’s decision was partially based on the 2019 policy, asserting that it enabled Google to exert control over workers despite not directly employing them.

In recent efforts, the labor board has tightened regulations to prevent companies from circumventing negotiations with temporary and contract workers. This includes a rule adopted last year, stating that companies with indirect influence over working conditions could be deemed employers of contract workers. However, a federal judge halted the implementation of this rule in March.

The Google spokesperson affirmed on Friday that the company will uphold a supplier code of conduct mandating safe working conditions and compliance with existing legal obligations for vendors and staffing firms. Additionally, it was noted that most of the company’s suppliers already operate in states where the minimum wage is set at or above $15.

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