After mass layoffs, employees ask Google to freeze new hires, prioritize rehire

Joint letter says 'nowhere have workers' voices adequately been considered'

After mass layoffs, employees ask Google to freeze new hires, prioritize rehire

Google employees from different parts of the world are looking to get some assurance from their employer amid the recent layoffs at the multinational technology company.

The workers have come together and sent a public letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai where they asked their employer to make public commitments.

“The impacts of Alphabet's decision to reduce its workforce are global. Nowhere have workers' voices adequately been considered, and we know that as workers we are stronger together than alone. We are thus coming together across the world to be heard,” they said in the letter.

In January, Pichai announced 12,000 layoffs at the company. That came after, in September 2022, Pichai said that announcing layoffs to the entire company was “not a scalable way to do it.”

The question was raised following a Wall Street Journal report that the company informed about 50 employees (roughly half of those employed at the firm’s startup incubator Area 120) that they need to find a new internal role within three months if they want to remain employed.

Five demands

Now, Google employees want Pichai to “freeze all new hires during the layoff process,” they said in the letter, a copy of which Business Today acquired.

They want the employer to first ask for voluntary redundancies and voluntary working time reduction before compulsory layoffs, and to allow for employee “swaps” to further avoid compulsory redundancies.

The workers also want Google to grant priority rehire to any Alphabet employees that have been recently laid off, and to prioritize internal transfer options.

Workers also want protection for those residing in countries with active conflicts or humanitarian crises, such as Ukraine and Russia.

“Do not terminate employment when it would adversely affect visas, which could require workers to return to unsafe or unstable countries,” they said. “Provide extra support to these and workers at risk of residence permit loss: help with job searches — internal and external—and provide adequate gardening leave.”

Employees also want the employer to “respect scheduled leaves”. In case a worker on leave is to be laid off, Google should not give notice until the leave is finished. They must be informed in-person and be given the opportunity to say goodbye to their workmates.

Lastly, Google workers want – when it comes to layoffs – for there to be no discriminatory effects based on sex, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic identity, caste, veteran status, religion and disability.

“We call on you and Alphabet more broadly to make these critical public commitments,” the workers said. “Our company has long touted its commitment to doing right by its users and workers, and these commitments will show Alphabet adhering to the final line of its Code of Conduct: Don't Be Evil.”

When it comes to laying off employees, there’s a right way and a wrong way of going about it, says one expert.

“You shouldn’t be rolling out multiple layoffs in a short period of time,” said Naveen Bhateja, executive vice president and chief people officer at clinical technology giant Medidata, in a previous interview with HRD. “Take a recent tech giant, for example. Last year they announced they were laying off thousands of employees, now they’re saying there’s more coming – to me that’s not OK.

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