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WFH: Google employees likely to get less salary

New York: According to Reuters, Google employees who were working from the same office before the pandemic may have a different experience if they choose to work from home permanently, with long-distance commuters being the hardest hit. The experiment is taking place across Silicon Valley, which often sets trends for other large employers.

In addition, Facebook and Twitter have cut pay for remote employees who move to less expensive regions, while smaller companies such as Reddit and Zillow have implemented location-agnostic pay models, citing benefits for hiring, retention, and diversity.

The calculator offered by Alphabet Inc’s Google allows employees to see the effects of a move. But in practice, some remote employees, especially those who commute from long distances, could see their pay reduced without changing their address. ‘Our compensation packages have always been determined by location, and we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from,’ said a spokesperson for Google, adding that pay may vary by city and state.

A Google employee who did not wish to be identified for fear of retaliation, typically commutes to the Seattle office from a nearby county would likely see their pay cut by about 10% if they worked from home full-time, according to estimates given by Google’s Work Location Tool. Even though he was considering remote work, the employee didn’t want to give up the two-hour commute to work. ‘It’s as high of a pay cut as I got for my most recent promotion. I didn’t do all that hard work to get promoted to then take a pay cut,’ they said.

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Jake Rosenfeld, a professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis who studies pay determination, said Google’s pay structure raises alarms about who will feel the effects most acutely, including families. ‘What’s clear is that Google doesn’t have to do this,’ Rosenfeld said. ‘Google has paid these workers at 100% of their prior wage, by definition. So it’s not like they can’t afford to pay their workers who choose to work remotely the same that they are used to receiving.’

Google internal salary calculator screenshots seen by Reuters show that someone living in Stamford, Connecticut – an hour’s train ride from New York City – would receive a 15% pay cut for working from home, but a colleague living in New York would not get the same cut. These screenshots show that Seattle, Boston and San Francisco have 5% and 10% differences. Google employees report pay cuts of up to 25% when they leave San Francisco for an almost as expensive area of the state such as Lake Tahoe.

In the calculator, it says that it uses US Census Bureau metropolitan statistical areas, or CBSAs. In Stamford, Connecticut, for instance, many residents still work in New York, but Stamford isn’t in New York City’s CBSA.

Google spokesperson said the company will not change an employee’s salary if he or she moves from office work to fully remote in the city where the office is located. In New York City, employees will be paid the same as those working remotely from another New York City location, for instance, according to the spokesperson.

For commuters from areas such as Stamford, Connecticut, Google did not specifically address the issue.


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