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Today’s press on temporary staff

I joined Google late last year to oversee compliance activities across the company. I want to provide some additional information about an issue that I was made aware of this week, now reported in the press, relating to the “comparator rates” for a subset of our temporary staffers. 

Temporary staffers at Google

Around the world, we have about 6,000 temporary staffers who come to us from staffing partners and who work for a short period (up to two years) on short-term projects, such as covering leaves. They’re a hugely important part of our workforce and work in a wide range of areas, ranging from program managers to technical writers to lawyers to administrative roles. We strive to ensure they’re paid very competitively.

What are “comparator rates,” and why were we reviewing them?

As the number of roles at Google has expanded, the Extended Workforce Solutions (xWS) team has been working to update our mapping of each temporary staff role to its equivalent employee role, and then calculating the employee’s hourly rate. That benchmark is the “comparator rate”. There are thousands of comparator rates — one for each combination of role type, level and location.

Having a set of updated comparator rates helps us compete more effectively for talent, and helps us and our staffing partners comply with laws governing pay parity between temporary staff and employees.  

The team discovered that some of these comparator rate benchmarks hadn’t been updated for a number of years.

How do comparator rates relate to actual pay rates?

Comparator rates are an internal benchmark only. They don't reflect what our staffing partners actually pay temporary staff. After all, our staffing partners need to pay well to attract candidates to apply for these roles.

Our review to date shows that most temporary staff are paid significantly more than the “comparator rate” benchmark. For example,

  • For a Technical Writer II in Canada, a current temporary staff member is making 50% more than the 2021 comparator rate.

  • For a Business Analyst II in India, a current temporary staff member is making 80% more than the 2021 comparator rate. 

  • For a UX Engineer II in the U.S., a current temporary staff member is making 35% more than the 2021 comparator rate. 

  • For a Hardware Engineer III in the U.S., a current temporary staff member is making 60% more than the 2021 comparator rate. 

These are just a few examples.

And even though the team hasn’t increased the comparator rates for some years, actual pay rates for temporary staff have increased numerous times in that period.

What are we doing next?

Updating comparator rates across the board has been an ongoing project in xWS and for the past two years, that team has been actively working on it, including discussing how to update them for current and new temporary staff.  

But it’s clear to me the pace has been unacceptably slow and, in recent months, the team has begun taking steps to speed it up. We have replaced the outside firm working on it and have updated comparator rates in a number of countries. 

It’s clear that this process has not been handled consistent with the high standards to which we hold ourselves as a company. We’re doing a thorough review, and we’re committed to identifying and addressing any pay discrepancies that the team has not already addressed. And we’ll be conducting a review of our compliance practices in this area. In short, we’re going to figure out what went wrong here, why it happened, and we’re going to make it right.

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