Would you believe Google’s mass layoffs are still going on as of January? Google’s reported mishandling of the largest-ever round of layoffs has left employees confused, and they’re doing everything from leaving work to sending angry letters to management.
First, European Googlers are just now being fired for the January announcement. Reuters reports that more than 200 employees were laid off at the company’s Zurich, Switzerland, facility this week. The employees of that office walked out for a second time in protest of the move, even offering to take pay cuts or reduced working hours to prevent the job cuts. However, the layoffs at Google seem motivated by a desire to prop up the stock market, so it’s no surprise that these offers fell on deaf ears.
Many of the Swiss workers who walked out in protest are members of the IT workers’ union Syndicom, and a union spokesman told Reuters: “Our members at Google Zurich and all workers taking part in the strike are showing solidarity with those made redundant. the opaque nature of the layoffs and are particularly disappointed that Google is laying off employees at a time when the company is making billions in profits every year.”
Current and former employees believe Google is cruel in the way it treats employees who were on medical or parental leave during the layoffs. CNBC reports that Google has decided not to honor pre-approved leave for laid-off employees. Some Googlers have formed a group called “Fired on Leave,” which is trying to get Google to honor previously agreed timelines for employees going through major life changes.
Making sure Google honors its previous leave agreements isn’t just about getting employees paid if they have medical or family issues; it’s also about ongoing medical care when they need it most. As part of Google’s (seemingly rejected) plan to provide employees with every imaginable benefit, the company has on-site medical facilities that many employees use.
While employee severance payments may come with a few more months of health insurance, being laid off means they immediately lose access to Google’s facilities. If that’s where a Googler laid-off family doctor works, that person is out of luck, and some employees told CNBC that they lost access to their doctors once the layoff email came through. Employees on leave also have a lot to deal with. A former Googler, Kate Howells, said she was released from her hospital bed by Google shortly after giving birth. She worked for the company for nine years.
The Laid off on Leave group points out that Google is not living up to the image it promotes to the world, saying, “Google is currently demonstrating its commitment to the workplace and its participation in Women’s History Month through various product and service campaigns . We agree: it is very important to recognize the hardships that still disproportionately affect women in the workplace.”
Yet another group of Googlers posted an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai asking the company to continue to employ people during sick leave, freeze new hires during the layoff process, and prioritize rehiring laid-off employees in the future. The letter also asks Google to ensure that the layoffs do not discriminate against anyone and that the company protects workers facing humanitarian crises by not firing workers with visas from Ukraine or Russia. More than 1,300 Googlers have signed the letter so far.