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A hot potato: Google employees that choose to work from home permanently could see a reduction in pay based on where they reside. In some instances, the pay cut is quite significant, with one person expecting a 15 percent decrease in salary if they decided to work remotely.
Reuters was the first to report on the matter, noting that Google is unique in that it offers employees a calculator that lets them see how their pay would be impacted by a move.
One Google employee that works at the Seattle office told the publication that they were considering remote work as they have a two-hour commute. According to estimates from Google’s Work Location Tool, however, the person would take a pay cut of about 10 percent by choosing to work from home.
“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,” the person said.
Another Google employee living in Stamford, Connecticut, who travels by train to New York City, would be paid 15 percent less to work from home. A co-worker in the same New York City office that lives in town would see no pay cut if they decided to work from home.
Reuters also saw screenshots from others in Boston, Seattle and San Francisco that showed five to 10 percent differences in pay for office work versus remote work.
A spokesperson for Google said their compensation packages have always been determined by location, adding that, “we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from.”
Google's calculator notes that it uses US Census Bureau metropolitan statistical areas to help calculate pay.
Naturally, not everyone agrees with this policy. Jake Rosenfeld, a sociology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said it’s clear that Google doesn’t have to do this.
“Google has paid these workers at 100 percent 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.”