If any company were to have a chance of avoiding the chilling effects of the drooping economy, it would be Google. But sadly not even the king of search is safe from the flailing financial markets and volatile real estate markets. People are losing their jobs at Google, and the numbers aren’t small.
In the background Google has been laying off people since August, and that number is expected to climb toward 10,000 according to WebGuild:
Since August, hundreds of employees have been laid off and there are reports that about 500 of them were recruiters for Google.
But because Google is a publicly traded company, they’re legally required to announce when layoffs are occurring.
Or are they? Apparently the company is exercising a loophole in the system because it considers a large portion of its workforce to be temporary workers that can be let go quietly. It isn’t a new concept, companies have been hiring contractors and keeping them on board long term for ages, all the while without giving them any benefits that employees are entitled to.
It’s a sweet situation for the employer, and many times the contractor is perfectly ok with it too. But, at some point after years of work a certain level of expectation seems reasonable.
Keeping workers in a temporary status allows Google to quickly and quietly downsize its workforce, reduce overhead from health benefits, and look super productive to shareholders who only consider head count from the actual permanent employee population.
A company like Google has relative armies of lawyers who work to discover and utilize loopholes like this, it’s one of the advantages of being a large company. But, as the economy continues to challenge businesses in new ways it remains to be seen if Google can reinvent itself enough to stay on the top.