Google won't pay remaining parental or medical leave for laid-off employees

Former workers say the company is disrupting treatment.

REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Google is facing pushback from some of its 12,000 laid-off employees. CNBC has learned that over 100 ex-staffers have formed a "Laid off on Leave" group asking Google to pay for the full leaves they were approved to take before the January 20th layoff announcement, including parental, medical and caregiver leave. While the company said in early 2022 that it was extending all parental leave to 18 weeks for full-time staff (24 weeks for birth parents), it told terminated employees that they'd get 16 weeks of severance pay plus two weeks for every added year of employment, with paid time off included.

The group members say the approach has not only impacted their parenting plans (including those who had recently given birth), but has also disrupted healthcare. Some former workers tell CNBC they lost access to Google's in-house medical care the day they received their layoff notices, denying them access to ongoing in-person treatment. Google has offered virtual doctor's appointments, but has otherwise asked affected people to find alternatives.

In a statement to Engadget, Google repeated its 16-week severance pay plan and noted that outgoing employees would be eligible for regular salary and stocks for their "60+ day" notice window. Google claims its accommodations for people on leave compare "favorably" with those of other companies.

The affected people are demanding that CEO Sundar Pichai and other management quickly clarify the leave policy. Google is poised to finalize severance terms as soon as March 31st.

Google is far from alone in creating potential issues for workers laid off while on leave. Numerous tech giants have announced mass layoffs in the past several months as they grapple with a tough economy. However, the uproar at Google highlights one of the problems these companies face: they previously promised extensive benefits to attract would-be hires, but now have to reconsider those perks as they cut costs.