Google employees who choose to work permanently from home could have their wages reduced by up to 25%, according to a new Reuters report.
Employees with longer trips will be the hardest hit.
In July 2020, Google was the first major US company to formalize a long-term teleworking plan for employees after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
However, the tech giant has now introduced a location-based compensation model that can force many employees who work from home to return to the office.
Google provides employees with a workplace calculator that shows how much their salary will change if they continue to work from home after the company’s offices reopen on October 19th.
Reuters found that employees living in Stamford, Conn., would receive a 15% pay cut if they chose to work remotely instead of taking the hour-long commute to Google’s New York City office. However, remote workers living in Manhattan would not receive a pay cut.
Meanwhile, employees who chose not to travel to Google’s Seattle office would see a salary drop of about 10%, and those who didn’t want to travel to their San Francisco location would see a pay cut of up to 25%.
A Google spokesman said the company’s compensation packages have “always” been based on location, with different cities and states having different salary ranges.
However, critics of the new wage structure fear that it unfairly discriminate against people who have difficulty getting around and are already under-represented in office environments, such as stay-at-home mothers and people with disabilities.
BBC contributor Hannah Hickock said the plan threatens to intensify “gender inequality across the spectrum by reinforcing domestic roles,” which could harm a woman’s potential to progress in her career and earn more money.
Jake Rosenfeld, professor of sociology and salary determination researcher at Washington University in Missouri, said Google’s plan is unnecessary and will harm families.
“By definition, Google paid these workers 100% of their previous salary,” said Rosenfeld. “So it’s not like they can’t pay their workers who choose to work remotely in the same way they’re used to being paid.”
In contrast to Google’s move, technology companies Reddit and Zillow announced location-independent payment models, saying they improve retention and employee diversity.