When You Work for Google But Don’t Work for Google

Photo credit: Peter Salanki, CC BY 2.0.

Here’s your longread for this afternoon: “Inside Google’s Shadow Workforce,” at Bloomberg. You’re probably already familiar with the fact that Google relies on a combination of employees and contract workers (aka “TVCs,” for “temps, vendors, and contractors,” or simply “red badges”). However, the balance of employees and non-employees just shifted:

Earlier this year, those contractors outnumbered direct employees for the first time in the company’s twenty-year history, according to a person who viewed the numbers on an internal company database.

At Google, as with many other companies, contract workers and employees perform similar tasks for dissimilar compensation:

To ride Google shuttles, which ferry staff to campus for free, TVCs must pay for each ride. In an emailed statement, a Google spokeswoman said that it charges TVCs less than $2 per ride, and if it provided TVCs with free shuttle service, that would be considered a taxable benefit.

These benefits are such a big deal that some contract workers are asked to sign contracts waiving their rights to benefits “even if a court later determines the worker was legally a Google employee.”

But again, you probably know most of that. The part I didn’t know? Why Google benefits from hiring all of these TVCs. It’s not just because they don’t want to pay health insurance or offer sick leave. There are other factors, like tax incentives, to consider — and that’s what makes this piece worth reading. There’s this myth that corporations are job creators, after all; Bloomberg reveals why corporations might be more interested in hiring a third-party company to provide and manage a contract workforce.

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