Laid-Off Googlers Fight for Approved Parental Leave Pay

Having a child is hard — but getting laid off after having a baby (or when about to have one) could make it feel worse.

And some Google employees are learning this now: Google has reportedly told laid-off staffers who were previously approved for leaves (ranging from parental to medical to caregiver) that they will only receive the standard severance package, according to CNBC, which spoke with people affected. The standard package is 16 weeks, plus two weeks for every year worked and the 60-day notification period.

“We respectfully request a good faith effort to honor the terms of our original parental and/or disability leave arrangements for all leaves that were approved as of January 20, 2023,” a group of former employees wrote in a letter to executives.

Related: Google Will Lay Off 12,000 Workers Due to ‘Difficult Economic Cycles’

Stories of workers in the technology industry who were laid off when about to go on parental leave or even while giving birth have proliferated, per the New York Times.

Google laid off about 12,000 workers in January.

One woman, Katherine Wong, was eight months pregnant when she was laid off from Google in January, she said.

“It is almost impossible for me to look for a job as a 34-week pregnant and right about to go on maternity leave for months,” she wrote in a LinkedIn post. As CNBC noted, another woman who said she was at Google for over nine years read her layoff notification just after giving birth.

Over 100 employees have created a group called “Laid off on Leave,” per CNBC, to advocate for getting the pay they say they were promised.

So far, the letters to top executives have not received replies.

Related: More Than 1,600 Tech Workers Are Being Laid Off A Day On Average In 2023, According to a New Report

The group also attacked CEO Sundar Pichai for caring more about AI innovations — namely, chatGPT, which has helped drive competitor Microsoft’s Bing to new highs of 100 million daily active users — and the threat of Google losing dominance in search than 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 Google’s January layoff memo, Pichai wrote: “I am confident about … our early investments in AI” and that the company is “prepared to approach it boldly.”

Google declined to answer CNBC’s questions about paying for leave periods for laid-off employees.

The group also mentioned in its communications with executives that Amazon, which has also laid off thousands, is paying employees their leave periods, plus severance.

Related: Amazon to Layoff 18,000 Employees, Largest Cut in Company History: ‘We’ll Be Inventive, Resourceful, and Scrappy’

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