Laid-off Google employees have repeatedly asked Google and CEO Sundar Pichai to honor previously approved medical leave.
Google did what was once considered unthinkable for the company, laying off thousands of workers for the first time in its history. At the time, Google promised 16 weeks of severance pay plus an additional two weeks for every year an employee worked at the company.
Unfortunately, for some workers, that still comes out to less time than they were previously promised for medical leave, parental leave, or caregiver’s leave. In early 2022, Google increased the length of various leaves, with parental leave lasting up to 24 months. At the time, Chief People Officer Fiona Cicconi said the company wanted employees to “spend more time with their new baby, look after a sick loved one or take care of their own wellbeing,” according to CNBC.
Now, faced with losing some of that time they were previously promised, more than 100 employees have formed the “Laid off on Leave” group. The group has already sent three letters to Google executives, including Pichai, asking them to honor their previous promise.
In the meantime, the layoffs are causing a significant amount of hardship and inconvenience, including individuals losing access to their health care via Google’s on-site One Medical facility the moment the layoffs were announced.
Still others found out about the reduced leave they’re now facing right when they needed it most.
“Exactly a week after receiving the text and sharing the exciting news that my maternity leave was approved, I got the already widely talked-about email letting me know that I was among the 12k terminated,” a Google program manager wrote on LinkedIn. “Easy target? Maybe.”
“On 1/20/23 at 7:05 am while in the hospital bed holding my hours-old newborn I learned that I was part of the #thegolden12K of Googlers who had been laid off,” Kate Howells wrote on LinkedIn. “I was a Googler for 9.5 years.”
When contacted by CNBC, a Google spokesperson simply pointed to the original layoff announcement.
“As we shared with impacted employees, we benchmarked this package to ensure the care we’re providing compares favorably with other companies, including for Googlers on leave,” the spokesperson said.
Needless to say, the company’s actions are not going over well with Googlers and fly in the face of the image the company has maintained for years, in terms of how it treats its employees.
“When Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced layoffs, he mentioned the company’s commitment to AI three times, but never once mentioned Google’s commitment to accessibility,” the group wrote in an email to CNBC. “This matters deeply because accessibility is part of the company’s actual mission. This clearly calls for a re-centering of priorities. It’s unsurprising that through a bungled demo just days after laying us off, Google showed they’re indeed not leading the way in AI. However, the good news is that an incredible opportunity remains to be an accessibility leader in the treatment of laid off workers.”