back to article Google staff who work from home might see pay cut under corporate policy – reports

Google may push through reductions in pay for employees that sidestep a return to the same office and instead choose to work from home permanently post-pandemic. Or so says Reuters, which refers to a Work Location Tool that Google gave to staff in June to calculate the potential wage implications of full-time remote working. …

  1. Whitter


    On the assumption that childcare is female-dominated, it seems likely that this policy structurally sexist

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Childcare

      Correct. Their European HR people will be having kittens over this kind of policy. Probably seemed like such a smart idea in Mountain View.

      After all, what motivates people better to do things they don't want to do than threatening to dock their pay if they don't comply?


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Childcare

        This type of policy is common in the USA and likely is not new. Pay is partially based on location and cost of living in that location. That policy existed at all the US high tech companies I worked at since 2000.

        They will work it so it does not apply to Europe, just like so many companies have forced US workers to take their meager time off at July 4 and Christmas.

        I'm not saying it's the right thing to do, but this is not "new" at all.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Childcare

          This is because high tech companies form a cartel that uses "market rate" to fix salaries. The only reason this flew is that the IT workers used to earn considerably more than other professions. Those companies also exploited the fact that other professions felt envious that IT workers earn "so much".

          This enabled those predatory companies to amass unimaginable capital and turn engineers into cattle.

        2. EricB123 Bronze badge

          Nothing New

          Hewlett Packard tried to do this many years ago with employees who worked in lower cost of living locations would get less pay than those in Mountain View, for example. While this is commonly done to set pay rates, doing this to employees after they are hired seems to me to be a breech of contract.

        3. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: Childcare

          Pay in most countries is based on location, not just the USA. For example HMG staff get up to £5K allowance. Even the PRC does it.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Re: Childcare

            That’s a London Weighting, a reflection of the additional costs. They could fuck with that as it is an allowance. Perhaps a contracted car allowance in some circumstances too.

            Most contracts have a designated location - or remote worker - in it.

            All pay rises I have had in recent times have been merit based.

            This won’t fly in the EU/EEA. Unicorn Post-Brexit UK … hmm who knows as they seem intent on rolling back EU laws wholly incorporated into UK law as part of the EU Withdrawal legislation. regardless of saying they wouldn’t.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Childcare

            "Pay in most countries is based on location..."

            Pay in most countries is based on the location of the role. Google are proposing to make pay dependent on the location of the employee when that employee chooses to work the role remotely. That is a pretty big distinction.

        4. ChrisC Silver badge

          Re: Childcare

          "Pay is partially based on location and cost of living in that location."

          Yet, by the sounds of it, Google weren't actually bothered about the cost of living when they set their salary bands in pre-WFH times - if they were, then they'd already have been paying their employees differently based a) on where they *actually* lived and b) the cost of commuting from there to the office, rather than simply including a consistent "cost of living" bump to the salaries offered for roles at that specific office location.

          That they seemed happy to pay everyone the same without taking these actual living/commuting costs into account previously, makes their desire to now pay WFHers less seem rather ill thought out and pretty much guaranteed to piss off even more of their employees than the ones who've already made their feelings public.

      2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Childcare

        It's been a while, but I seem to recall "London Weighting" was a thing... people paid more to do the same job if they were working out of a London office as opposed to one in, say, Swansea.

        I believe this is the same thing, but applied to working from home.

        The concept isn't outrageous: if you want to work from home, you should be paid as if the company had an office "in the neighborhood"... it's certainly true that there already are tax implications based on where employees live (e.g. some states require employers to withhold extra taxes for e.g. school districts based on the employee's residence, not the employer's location). So moving to a different school district impacts your take home pay! And why should two neighbors working for the same company but only one who has to go into the office NOT be paid differently? The office worker has commuting costs that the WFH doesn't.

        So, fundamentally, the issue here is not whether or not you're working from home, but where your home is (WFH in San Francisco apparently doesn't result in a change in pay, but WFH if you live in Tracy, CA does... it's not the WFH, but the location of the H!)

        Of course, this is a bit of a bugger for those who arranged their lives on the assumption that they'd be paid the big city salary while living in the sticks and sharing a commute with their spouse (so they had no additional household commute expenses), but that's a transitional thing: if everyone was always paid based on where they lived and whether they WFH or WFO.

        (The other problem is that there are places where it's extremely expensive to live, but the cost-of-living tables are skewed based on the surrounding area: you live in super-pricey Vista Del Gorgio, surrounded by peasants, but get paid an excellent salary... for a peasant!)

        1. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: Childcare

          ""London Weighting" was a thing". Not was, is. Location weightings are standard all over the world but paranoid Septics, as usual, believe they as special and being victimised.

          1. JimmyPage Silver badge

            Re: Childcare

            ""London Weighting" was a thing".

            BT had inner-London weighting in the 80s. They used this to offer jobs as £13,000 and then turn it into £11,500 when you started.

          2. Down not across

            Re: Childcare

            Quite. I recall considering a position in Sofia Antipolis but whilst Paris weighting was a thing, sadly no such was offered for Côte d'Azur which had similar inflated living costs.

        2. T. F. M. Reader

          Re: Childcare

          @Malcolm Weir: you should be paid as if the company had an office "in the neighborhood"

          IMHO, since the company does not have an office "in the neighbourhood" it also should compensate me for parts of my rent/mortgage, electricity, internet fees, amortization of facilities (including furniture), etc. This will not be an undue burden on the company as there will be offsetting savings at the office (or, if you will, savings on the costs of the non-existent office "in the neighbourhood"). All that was glanced over during the last year ans a half.

          Of course, if a company is keen on their workforce actually returning to the offices they may try and make the "punitive cuts" not entirely fair, contract laws and labour regulations permitting.

          Point is, it's not simple. Employment contracts are also not simple: every one of mine through the years had a clause that said that work had to be performed on the company's premises, exceptions excepted. That's an employee's contractual obligation, and if it exists and the government-imposed restrictions on working from offices are lifted I expect corresponding arguments to be heard in labour disputes.

        3. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: Childcare

          I note we both got downvoted from someone not liking facts.

        4. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: Childcare

          "London weighting" isn't the same thing. It is based on where the workplace is (i.e. London), not where the person lives. The employee can live in London, Leeds or Leith* and still get the weighting. What Google are proposing is focus g on where the employee is based - a, wholly different thing.

          *I know two people who live within an hour of Edinburgh Airport, and are employed in London universities. Apparently, the improvement in living standards combined with the weighting is worth it. I wouldn't be surprised to see more people doing it now that we know so much can be done from home.

          1. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: Childcare

            No, "London weighting" is based on the cost of living in or close to London and assumes the person lives in or near to London. That you are trying to make out it is something else is disingenuous at best. You'd make a good Tory.

            1. fluffymitten

              Re: London weighting

              Officially London weighting is only for public sector workers (doctors/nurses, police, teachers, civil servants, fire brigade, etc) to encourage them to live within the Greater London area, closer to where they work.

              This is quite an interesting explanation, focussed on teaching:


              Some private companies have also implemented something similar in their pay scales and are likely to have their own rules and scales of wages uplift depending on what they're trying to achieve.

              1. gandalfcn Silver badge

                Re: London weighting

                Correct as to both "London weighting" and the use of similar metrics in the private sector. Unfortunately rather a lot of people refuse to accepts the facts and reality because they prove their bigoted opinions totally incorrect.

                Location weighting is standard everywhere in the world. Shifting production to where labour is cheap is a form of the phenomenon. As are Flags of Convenience and tax havens.

                But then Septics do seem to have problems dealing with reality and acts.

        5. NeilPost Silver badge

          Re: Childcare

          I think regardless the cost benefits of WFH outweighs and pay reduction. It’s poor for staff retention.

          When my job was relocated by BT the other side of Birmingham (UK) there was a temporary meagre travel allowance uplift as compensation. After 3 years I was told it was tough and to suck it up. I never got a pay-rise out of it.

          Auto costs were not all of it + 45 mins to daily commute (total both ways) and the disruption to family life.

        6. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

          Re: Childcare

          In New York City, employees pay NYC income tax and I believe you pay this even if you live in New Jersey or Connecticut. In fact, you have to pay NY State income tax if you work in NY and reside in another state. In this case, working from home and declaring your "work place" is in your home state MAY end up a net gain, even with the reduced salary, if you regular office is in NYC.

          The same might be said of CA worker living in Nevada

        7. Cereberus

          Re: Childcare

          The office worker has commuting costs that the WFH doesn't.

          The WFH has additional heating, lighting and general power bills (including the company supplied laptop, printer etc.) the office worker doesn't.

          So on that basis should there not be an assessment of additional costs per person that include ALL incidentals.

          For example I still work on site or in an office (depending on what I am doing). I have a company vehicle so no commuting costs. My wife is currently WFH - last winter we used around 30% more electricity than usual, and around 3 times more heating oil (doesn't help that she likes to be warm whilst still having windows open for fresh air). Her company uses mainly drop in centres so only pay for when they are used. Should I (and my wife) have to pick up the extra costs incurred whilst she works at home, when the company is saving money by not having to pay for the drop in sites that aren't being utilised - and then she take a pay cut because she is working from home?

          1. hoola Silver badge

            Re: Childcare

            This is the elephant in the room that nobody is prepared to admit to. At my place there has been a purge off leased offices to get as many back-office staff working from home indefinitely.

            The benefits that are heavily pushed in the published policy are:

            Time savings by not having to commute.

            Cost savings by not having to commute.

            This is all well and good for the high echelons that lived far enough away that they had measurable commutes. Many of the lower grades lived close enough that there are no real time or cost savings so are subsidising the employer.

            The further up the pay-scale the more you benefit from home working. But, these are the people making the decisions so are unable to see that the policy has a problem.

            Currently there is a (very) small tax allowance for home working if it is due to Covid. That is clearly going to stop making the situation worse.

            The company saves a wad of money not leasing offices and the employee takes the hit in now providing the office space in their home, free or charge.

            You never know they may do something with tax that is meaningful but I cannot see it.

          2. Mr. Flibble

            Re: Childcare

            Maybe now she realises you have to pay for that energy use yourselves, she'll start wearing a jumper or close the window.

    2. Jeff LeCoat

      Re: Childcare

      Correct. I expect it would be classed as indirect discrimination in the UK.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Childcare

      Wouldn't an office creche service solve any childcare concerns? Flexi hours for the school run?

      The employee is *choosing* to switch to a remote working option.

      The original contract was an agreement to work from the office. Why the employee wishes to work elsewhere is irrelevant, the company agreed, with the employee, on the salary for an office presence.

      This was a mutual agreed thing.

      If you want to work from somewhere else, then you are asking for a change in the agreement. The employer can see value in a local presence and is willing to pay more if you as an employee offer that.

      If they want the old pay, they keep to the old contract terms. If they want to work away, there can be a price to pay.

      In this case, Google says there is. I am pretty damn sure if you are that good, and that irreplaceable, they will pay.

      I've seen extensive custom contracts being written by HR for people like that. They even had Deloitte attached, paid by the company, to manage this person's taxes across three countries.

  2. Swarthy
    Paris Hilton


    "With many businesses struggling it is unsurprising that they will be looking for ways to cut costs." - What the Hell?!

    The only way businesses are struggling right now is the lack of people willing to work customer-facing jobs for shite pay. Google is NOT one of those. Although, if they put this into effect, they may well become one.

    I wonder if a well-placed VPN could report your tele-working place as Fisher Island (average income in 2018 of $2.2 million) and get a commensurate pay hike?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: WTF?!

      From the quote you highlighted:

      "With many businesses struggling it is unsurprising that they will be looking for ways to cut costs."

      A huge rented office building which has to be maintained just so everyone can go there every morning and go back home every night must be known an investment, then.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: WTF?!

        $19 BILLION in profits is NOT... struggling. Not even close.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: WTF?!

      They want to cut true costs and use those savings to create fake costs and thus avoid paying tax.

      Maybe Google CEOs want to go to space too and they need all the money they can get to buy the rocket fuel.

      It is easier to take money from the workers than recover it from various tax avoidance schemes.

    3. Jaybus

      Re: WTF?!

      So Google wants to make more by reducing costs. Of course they do, and that is reasonable. What is not reasonable is denying their employees that same profitability. Google is claiming that since the commuting and other non-reimbursed employee expenses are reduced, Google is entitled to those savings too, in addition to the savings they will enjoy from smaller or less office space. WTF, indeed!

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "reductions in pay for employees that [..] choose to work from home permanently"

    No problem - they'll just work less hours to compensate.

    1. Aladdin Sane

      Re: "reductions in pay for employees that [..] choose to work from home permanently"

      Obligatory Dilbert.

    2. Snake Silver badge

      RE: work less - no joke required

      Fundamentally they will happy expect you to be as productive as ever. While they cut your pay.

      If they are paying me less for the work, then you should get less work. That's Fair Trade. Deal with it or pay me based upon my output, as you did before.

      Yet more corporate scumbaggery brought to you by American Greed, Inc.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: "reductions in pay for employees that [..] choose to work from home permanently"

      If you look at other threads on The Register, the general consensus is that people working from home are working longer hours.

  4. Aladdin Sane

    Absolute cunt's trick

    Fuck them.

    1. Dr. Vagmeister

      Re: Absolute cunt's trick

      If Google are cutting peoples wages since they work from home and do not incur travelling costs, then this is just corporate greed at its best. They deny their workers the savings, despite their Q2 $19bn operating profit.

      They can reduce building maintenance costs by downsizing, saving more money, yet seek to extract more from their workers. Disgusting.

      I suppose the removal of "Don't be evil" from their code of conduct in 2018 has created a senior manager culture appropriate to the dystopian films of every decade.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Absolute cunt's trick

        Could you argue than that as staff are being 'paid to commute' that the commuting time counts as part of the contracted hours? So if a staff member has to commute two hours a day and are employed on a 37.5 hour a week contract then the staff members only need to work 27.5 hours in the office each week?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Absolute cunt's trick

          So someone who lives a few miles away and decides to walk to work gets paid for that time?

          If you choose to live an hour away from where you work that's your choice, the company shouldn't be obligated to pay you for that time.

          Nor should they be expected to continue paying wages based on someone having to live in a very expensive area (or have a very long commute) because they were going to an office in that area five times a week when they are no longer going into that office.

          Even if companies don't succeed in cutting wages of existing workers, which I agree is problematic, you can bet that wages they offer for "remote work" positions created in the future will be significantly lower than what they would have been offering for people working in a Silicon Valley, NYC, central London etc. office - because those wages had to be adjusted upwards to account for the cost of living. When where you live becomes YOUR choice, it is no longer the company's problem what your cost of living is.

          Even if you choose to remain in the high cost area that won't pay you for that, because there will be other people who have already moved to a lower cost area who will be willing to take less because their cost of living will be less. Additionally, there will be people who lived in a lower cost area ALL ALONG who previously didn't even apply to a company like Google because they didn't want to move to Silicon Valley, who will now be able to expand their job search.

          So those of you who think "they won't be able to pay less because otherwise they won't get the best people" are going to be wrong, because not only will they have many of the same people applying who would have applied before, they will have a larger pool of applicants that will include all the people who previously didn't apply because they didn't want to have to move to those areas.

          Heck, if I was a little younger I would probably be seriously considering the idea of applying for jobs in Silicon Valley, since the main reason I never have is that while I liked visiting I had no desire to live there and endure a daily hellish commute (nor the ability to afford $2+ million to buy a halfway decent house close enough to their HQ I could avoid the hellish commute) But if I can keep living where I do now...

          1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

            Re: Absolute cunt's trick

            It really doesn't have anything to do with commuting costs, it is cost of living.

            The cost of living in the Bay Area CA is outrageous! To attracting people to work there you have to offer compensation that allows them to live somewhere where they can actually commute to work.

            If this person then moves to Lake Tahoe NV and works from home, where housing costs are much lower, income taxes are much lower then they now have a much lower cost of living and even with a say 20% reduction in pay they may actually end up with more money after expenses.

            This is even more of a factor in offices in NYC where people routinely live outside of NY State, in New Jersey and Connecticut. NY state and NYC both have income taxes and if you work in NYC you have to pay NY state and NY City income taxes even if you live outside the state. So there, you just may end up better off even after a pay reduction working from home.

            (IF NY allows you to declare your work place your home. They may not allow that if the main office is in NYC, bureaucrats in NY as DICKS!)

            I agree reducing current employees compensation could be problematic unless they go through some kind of employment renegotiation.

          2. darklord

            Re: Absolute cunt's trick

            Just like to Add, when employing staff companies should take into condideration where that person lives when sorting CV's.

            IT used to happen but not so much now, soi if you approach a company for employment its your choice to accept or reject te working location based on the salary being offered and vice versa.

            Today companies are all over work life balance. fixed hours are on the way out unless you need to be an employee whose role required fixed hours.

            Today seems to be more about getting the job done not how long it takes or doesn't.

            Or I just have a good boss.

        2. Dr. Vagmeister

          Re: Absolute cunt's trick

          You are paid for your contracted hours, and that is usually based on attending your place of work.

          Unless that contract states that 10% of your pay is for commuting costs, then Google as per the OP, are being c*nts.

          They are simply denying those savings the worker benefits from, by working from home.

          Google could easily deny home working, which would solve the issue, but people may not like that since people now realise that working from home is just as beneficial to the company as to the person.

        3. NeilPost Silver badge

          Re: Absolute cunt's trick

          I’ll Move to London or Winchester then and expect a large automatic pay-rise

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Absolute cunt's trick

            I think you will find McD pay the same minimum wages everywhere.

    2. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Absolute cunt's trick


      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: Absolute cunt's trick

        Unless there's a specific allowance for travel costs, my salary is mine to do with as a please, not for my employer to say "x amount is for travel".

        1. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: Absolute cunt's trick

          If your salary is based on certain metrics then you are incorrect, and most salaries are based on specific assumptions whether you like it or not. One of those assumptions is the costs associated with having to travel to and from work and the higher costs of items you buy or use such as food and drink.

          1. Swarthy

            Re: Absolute cunt's trick

            Pay may be based on assumptions, but the employer is assuming the risk of assuming.

            If I assume that I'll be working a 40 hour week and the contract did not state hours, and then my employer tells me I need to do an extra 5 hours of "business development", I am on the hook because of my assumptions.

            If an employer assumes that 10% of my paycheck is for commuting, but it doesn't specify that in the contract, then they don't get to claim that 10% back if I telework.

  5. A random security guy

    Cost of housing and daycare

    A single bedroom in a decent neighborhood: $3000/month

    Childcare: $1200/month, higher.

    Roughly $50k post taxes, $70k pretax income

    Yearly income $200k.

    Cost of an ordinary condo $1million in a good neighborhood.

    Google on your resume: priceless.

    I’d take a 30% cut and work remotely.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Cost of housing and daycare

      I mean you could buy a tent in Walmart and set yourself up at the beach for free. You could get 95% cut and still work remotely.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Cost of housing and daycare


      2. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: Cost of housing and daycare

        Bali, Thailand, Goa, Sharm El Sheikh …. Here I come !!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cost of housing and daycare

      Working at Google is certainly not a bad thing, but it's not some shining achievement that magically opens all doors.

      And the ones where the door is opened.... its not cause they worked at Google. Its *what* they worked on.

      So I'd think very carefully about taking a pay cut just to get them on your resume. If you're Generic Software Guy/Gal Number 8321041 you're probably not doing yourself any favors....

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Oh those pesky workers, if only they could work for free. They are so lucky that we are letting them work at all...

    Google and other companies should start paying workers extra for use of their home as office.

    They are okay getting lavish properties and paying fortune to landlords. Perhaps it is much harder to do a tax fiddle when the worker does not have tax avoidance structure set up.

  7. TimMaher Silver badge


    I’m glad to see El Reg striping that one out.

    These incredibly arrogant , self regarding shits need to be brought down several pegs.

    If you can afford it, resign and get a job with a company that holds it’s staff in decent esteem.

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Campus

      You mean the incredibly arrogant, self regarding shits that believe people living in Bumfuck should get the same as those working in LA?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Retaliation against people who don't want to go back to the office.

    There's another issue that needs to be considered for big IT, average tenure (which will be higher than the median)

    By the time of return to the office you're hitting the stage where average employees may have never worked in the office. That's not a return to office, it's being forced to go to an unfamiliar environment and start settling all over again. Some work practises are new and would need to change back in the office. I had over 7 hours of remote meetings yesterday, over 6 today. That wouldn't wash tethered to my desk, and it wouldn't be anything like the old days. May as well be at home.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      There is also the "fake remote" aspect - people working in the office are still doing Zoom meetings because other colleagues are WFH.

      1. Dafyd Colquhoun

        Had that one when we first returned to the office in Australia last year. Meeting rooms were too small to hold the whole team (one person per 4 sq.m limit) so we all sat at our desks (1.5 m spacing maintained) and met via Webex, along with 1 or 2 people that were in other offices. Nothing annoying at all hearing the people around you and then the same voice 300 ms later.

  9. short a sandwich

    Home Office Rent

    As above invoice for office space at home equal to the annual pay cut. Everyone wins as this side of the pond there will be tax advantages for the employer and employee.

  10. Trigun

    I could understand this if the business concerned had profit issues, but this is google and has record profits. Doing this seems like a cretinous move, for sure.

    The only other reason for this might be because of interaction issues caused by working from home/office split. Even so, still a rubbish way of dealing with the problem.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      You should look at revenue, not profit. Companies manipulate profits all the time for tax purposes so this is not a great indicator. However, if company despite that shows record profits, think how much profit the really have, because they won't expose all of it as that attracts tax.

  11. cornetman Silver badge

    The only way that I could see this kind of thing fly was if they had a remuneration scheme similar to many working in London, whereby you get a specific London weighting to offset the difference in cost of living, which in the case of London is pretty extreme.

    I don't know if companies still do this, but the last time I worked there, such things were still done. If you're not living/working in London, then it would be unreasonable to keep paying it.

    Sounds like this is not the case for Google though. We would probably need to see more detail as to the specifics.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      I think the salaries should be connected to company revenue. It's crazy that you don't actually get paid for what you do, but you get some arbitrary number derived from "market rate".

      Engineers are grossly underpaid and somehow they don't protest.

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        Most of us are not motivated primarily by money and I suspect that is mainly why we don't get paid more than we could.

        For me, it is much more important to do fulfilling work, although a bit more money would be always be welcome I suppose.

    2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

      The same thing exists here in the US we just don't have a name for it. It's just 'cost of living adjustments'.

      Being in Construction, if we hire a heavy equipment operator (we build roads) for a project in California we need to offer him a higher wage (we also have to abide by prevailing wage laws) than if we hire him for a job in North Carolina. This even applies to existing employees. If a Project Manager takes on a project in CA he gets an increase in salary, if his next project is in Georgia his compensation is adjusted accordingly.

  12. a_yank_lurker

    Trying for the Dumbest and Dimmest

    Pay cuts like this will tend to drive away their best as they will tend to go hunt another job. This will leave them not with 'the best and brightest' but the 'worst and dimmest'. Now that I think of it maybe we should encourage Chocolate Factory to do this so they self destruct.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Trying for the Dumbest and Dimmest

      Workers at these companies are heavily brainwashed though. They select people with self esteem issues and they keep telling them they are the best of the best and they work for the best company on the planet. This sort of abuse enables them to be able to disconnect pay from the actual value the worker provides and probably most appropriate word to use is theft.

      "Pride goeth before the fall."

  13. vtcodger Silver badge

    I don't suppose that Google ...

    ... would care to tell us how much it costs them to provide office space and support services to an office worker? IIRC the accountants call that "home burden". And also what it cost them to support a remote worker. Clearly if the cost of supporting a remote worker is higher, then paying them less is fully justified.

    OTOH ....

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Guess you don't understand how wages work

      They don't pay based on their ability to pay, or the needs of the employee, they pay based on what employees are willing to accept. Potential employees who live in a high cost area and have $100K/year of after tax expenses for housing, child care, transportation etc. etc. will require a higher wage to take a job than those who have expenses of $50K/year. If it was based on ability to pay and need of the employee, they would give you a raise when you have a kid because of the need for child care. They'd reduce your wage when you got married because you'd have a second income, and so on.

      That's why you see Google opening campuses in places like Austin, because the cost of living there is much lower than in Silicon Valley. The same job will pay more in Silicon Valley, because the people who live there will demand higher wages because they have to live in a higher cost area (and I suppose also to compensate them for the extra hours of commute time each week)

      If they are hiring for a "remote work" job they will pay the same wage regardless of where you live. If that's not enough to make someone living in Silicon Valley feel it is worth their while, too bad. Just like there have been people willing to move TO Silicon Valley to take a job, there may be people willing to move FROM Silicon Valley to a cheaper area to allow them to take a job from a company based there that will be 100% remote.

      Some won't be willing to leave, but that's fine there will be more than enough applicants at the lower "same wage" remote work level since it is opened up to everyone across the country, not just those who already live in or are willing to move to Silicon Valley. Which, despite what those who live in Silicon Valley may think, is far from everyone. Many of us would never consider living there (nothing to do with politics, I just don't think a $2 million house less than half the size of my current one and on a postage stamp sized lot instead of a couple of wooded acres is for me, but for others it would be all about politics)

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Guess you don't understand how wages work

        they pay based on what employees are willing to accept.

        That is not that simple. Tech companies fix salaries and operate within what is called a "market rate", which is a salary that usually a cartel of big companies typically offer to pay engineers and other companies set salaries based on that. So it's not what engineer is willing to accept, because they have no choice if they want to work in the field.

        The way out for that was contracting, where the rates had some semblance of the actual value, but big companies lobbied governments to make sure engineers won't be able to work as independents. In the UK this is by something called IR35.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Guess you don't understand how wages work

          Market rate is based on what employees are willing to accept. How much value their labor has to the company is merely input to determining the maximum they're willing to pay. The amount that "employees are willing to accept" is lower when employees no longer are required to live in a high cost area due to the need to commute to the office five times a day, because a lower salary will give them the standard of living and disposable income they would need more to achieve in the high cost area. In addition the company will have a larger pool of applicants despite the lower salary range, because living a thousand miles away don't have to move to accept that job.

          I've contracted/consulted for roughly 20 years, and while it is true that the rates may more closely approximate your value it is still based on what you're willing to take. Several times in my career I've been able to do things that saved my client MILLIONS of dollars. You'll be unsurprised to learn that they did not give me one extra penny for my trouble. I was worth far more than they paid, but didn't realize any of that extra value. Even if they knew up front I would be able to do that, they might have been PREPARED to pay me more, but unless I refused their offer and told them I wanted three times the figure they offered, I wouldn't get even a fraction of what I saved them.

          On the other extreme I once basically sat around and did nothing for the last three months of my contract, because I'd completed the work I was supposed to do before the term of the contract ended. The full time people who were going to pick up from there on didn't want me involved since they were the ones who would have to support it going forward. I showed up every day ready in case they had questions, but they almost never had any since they wanted to figure out it out themselves rather than being spoon fed. So basically I had zero value for the company, but they didn't realize any of the savings. If I was a permanent employee they'd either transfer me to a different job or lay me off, but I guess it wasn't worth their trouble of trying to terminate my contract early with only three months left.

          1. cje

            Re: Guess you don't understand how wages work

            Will all the Google executives who are moving to New Zealand be taking a pay cut?

  14. chivo243 Silver badge

    If anything

    People who whore from home should get more money... They have to pay the ISP, maybe extra now due to extra bandwidth usage? They have to pay for the extra power that the employer isn't using at the office. They have to buy their own tea or coffee...

    In the end less people commuting reduces accidents.... So, you will pay me to gamble I don't get into an prang on the way to work, either in my own conveyance or on public transport? See icon!

    Retirement can't come soon enough!

    WFT as it's closest to the middle finger of Linus!

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: If anything

      They have to buy their own tea or coffee

      Good god, exactly how much tea to do you drink?

      Your argument is ridiculous. In today's world you are already paying an ISP, even crappy speeds are plenty for running Zoom. The slightly higher utility bill, coffee bill and other stuff is offset and then some by not having to buy gas, having less wear and tear on your car, etc. Heck, some dual income work from home people might decide they really only need one car and save thousands a year.

      Good luck trying to convince ANYONE you are worth more working from home. You are worth less than you used to be if you live in a high cost city. If you live in a place with moderate costs you are worth exactly the same you used to be (at least unless/until they believe they can hire someone with your skills in another country with much lower cost of living than the US / UK)

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: If anything

        So... I have two homes and two offices (because I'm IMPORTANT, dammit!).

        Most of the time I WFH in the house that's in the same city as one of the offices. As I write this, I'm in the other office (sleeping in a hotel). There are times when I've worked from the other home (but usually only for limited high-focus tasks, because time zones make it hard to deal with the three "C"s: Cumbria, Colorado and California!

        Anyway, I have a love/hate relationship with WFH... sometimes, it's great: "managed" disturbances, more flexible hours, better tea making facilities, beer on hand... and sometimes it *is* less productive, often in unexpected ways. For example, when in the office, I not infrequently discover things (good or bad) that impact what I do. And the same with my team members: while structured communications (meetings, etc) are easy to handle remotely, unstructured hallway/coffee pot interactions also have a significant role to play.

        The bottom line is that the analysis as to whether WFH is the same or less productive depends very much on personalities and tasks. Some people can do some things as well if not better remotely, others doing other things can't. The safe (management) bet is "in office" working, but having the ability to allow the perk of WFH is very useful, too...

        (I've a colleague who we're all convinced does his best work on transpacific flights to/from Hong Kong...)

      2. skeptical i

        Re: If anything

        I may not be worth more working from home, but I cost the company less than if I go to an office, no? Perhaps in the short term the company will pay to maintain, heat, cool, and stock an office for full capacity, but once the ratio of WFH:WFO sorts itself out it may be possible for the company to move to a smaller (therefore cheaper) office building and save more money long-term. Maybe not Google, as I imagine they are quite proud of their Chocolate Factory campus, but they might be able to lease out a walled-off section of it to another company which would not just save the cost of having to keep as much office space useful for their employees but would be an additional revenue stream.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: If anything

          You cost them less assuming they are able to close the office, but just because they save money on that why should they give it to you? If they fire half your coworkers and replace them with staff in India at 1/5 of the salary they will save a lot of money, do you think that should entitle you to a raise?

        2. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

          Re: If anything

          In my personal situation it makes no sense to even have an office. I works in a satellite office in FL with 11 people, none of whom work in the same department nor even communicate with each other for work purposes. All of my IT colleagues are spread across the US, my management is in Dallas, I don't support PCs so they will still have to call Dallas to get support. All working in the office will do for me is add additional distractions to my day as the people in the office will bother me with their PC issues and I will have to tell them "Call the Service Desk!"

          Our lease is up in 2023, so it makes no sense to lease another office but they will do it! I know they will because well, "brain dead!"

      3. Onen hag Oll

        Re: If anything

        The slightly higher utility bill?

        Admittedly there is no 'one size fits all' but utility bills could be significantly higher for someone working from home. During the winter, the house that MIGHT be empty otherwise has to be heated, in the summer (for those with climates that require it) it has to be cooled; personally, I'm lucky enough that just opening the windows satisfies that. Whilst these costs might be offset by commuting savings, such savings will vary. Heating / cooling a house for the additional time you're there isn't a slight increase (tea/coffee/meals aren't subsidised where I work but those are lesser).

        It does also take a significant number of cars off the road for a single company alone, multiply that throughout the country/world the savings (wear and tear/energy/climate etc) have benefits beyond the company. In this respect, WFH should be encouraged and incentivised.

        In addition, the fact that an office is half empty probably doesn't financially affect the company. It can consolidate the office space to accommodate the fewer employees without heating/cooling the empty part, it could let out the empty part and (I may be wrong here) its office is a fixed cost which would be classed as a tax overhead anyway and be included as a cost in tax calculations.

        WFH does affect the local businesses that support the office workers; bus companies, local food vendors etc. These have suffered and will continue to suffer if this continues although food purchase will just shift geographically.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clearly they just do not want to allow remote work but they feel like they need to because every other tech company is doing so. Instead of just saying no or making the logical, data driven decision to allow remote work, they are allowing remote work but then needlessly penalizing anyone who makes the wrong decision.

  16. Hazmoid

    Paid to commute?

    Australian here, and the thought of being paid to commute seems strange. The only time I have encountered this is my current job where the office is half an hour away through road works, and to take the job I held out for the boss to pay for one tank of fuel a month (Diesel Prado, 1300 KM to a tank :) ).

    I can still work from home except when I have to be in the workshop to build kit or support the company our office is based out of.

  17. andrewj

    And at the same time the employees subsidize Google's costs for power, water, internet etc. Nice.

  18. Cincinnataroo

    There should be extra pay for working from home surely.

    The home worker pays for the coffee, maybe a lunch that would otherwise br provided, office equipment etc. thereby saving the employer a bundle.

    1. fireflies

      The home worker can write off working expenses as tax deductibles - something the employer would possibly have been doing and will lose out on.

      The home worker also saves money from commuting, which would likely more than offset the expenses incurred by working from home, not to mention the time and effort saved - no more traffic jams, etc.

      In this case, it would be the employee deciding to become a home worker, not the employer telling employees they are now expected to work from home permanently. If the employee doesn't agree to the terms, they can default to working from the office/campus.

  19. fireflies

    Do you agree to the Terms and Conditions?

    "The starting point is the employment contract. If employers wish to implement pay cuts for homeworkers this would constitute a change to terms and conditions, one employees are unlikely to agree to."

    Not sure if they made an oversight with this statement... speaking as someone who has been working from home for many years pre-covid, the obvious change to the contract was changing my place of employment to my home address.

    The employees will have a contract that states their place of work - currently, that would be the office/campus they have commuted to in the past. If they want to work from home permanently, that contract would need to change to reflect their new place of work, and if Google et al. wish to base their wages on the location of their place of work, then they would be able to make that change within the contract contingent on allowing the contractual change to work from home.

    If Google chose to implement such a measure in contracts, it would seem they would be obligated to adjust wages if/when an employee moves, which could result in unforeseen implications for Google further down the line.

    When it comes to homeworking, basing the wage on the home address is arguably a fallacy - a home worker could technically work for any company that allows working from home, so basing pay on the competitiveness of the geographical location of the workplace only makes sense for a centralised workplace, not homeworking addresses.

    The whole point is to offer a comparative salary that is competitive or higher in relation to other workplaces in the area, to prevent employees leaving for higher salaries. If you work from home, "competitive salaries" are not those in your local area - they are any workplace that offers working from home. The unintended consequence will be that any other company with more foresight than Google could offer a competitive wage without needing their own office/campus.

    As a homeworker, moving to another employer that allows homeworking would be so much easier as your "office" doesn't move.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do you agree to the Terms and Conditions?

      Expect lot's of 'fire and rehire' behaviour from scumbag big corporations. My advice - tell them to shove it up their arse and leave.

  20. Julz


    Do you have to tell your employer where you live?

  21. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    It's the comparison that hits hard

    For example:

    You previously worked in an office where almost everyone was in the office working together all the time. Because of your job role you are largely required to be in the office but others choose to work from home. You take several hours out of your day commuting and also pay, often a non-trivial amount to commute (think £4,000s a year, or £50-70 per day) and head to the office but your co-workers choose not to do this. This is entirely and utterly unfair, but is your organisation going to pay you more to cover your extra hours travel and commute costs compared to your co-workers?

    1. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: It's the comparison that hits hard

      > ... but is your organisation going to pay you more to cover your extra hours travel and commute costs compared to your co-workers?

      Our company does. For those that commute to the office, the company pays for parking places in the parking level. For those that use public transport, they allow us to claim an equivalent amount to offset our transit costs. It's pretty fair for all and a green move.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: It's the comparison that hits hard

        Then you work for an extraordinary company. Well done (them and you)

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: It's the comparison that hits hard

          They are very cool. Small company of course. A large company run by bean counters wouldn't tolerate it, that's for sure.

    2. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: It's the comparison that hits hard

      Did said organisation previously pay more/require fewer working hours to cover the commuting costs/time of each individual employee, or were there some employees who were already effectively financially and freetime better off by virtue of living closer to the office...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When I went from commuting to WFH it was like a £150/month pay rise.

  23. bernmeister

    Travel costs

    I know a person who commutes to London from Bristol every day. His journey cost is almost £9000 per annum. He claimed the journey time was less than travelling in from Watford by car. This ruling would hit him hard now. He does not earn £90000 pa and he is really happy working (not) from home.

  24. rtb61

    Labour Laws

    Class action law suit time. Law broken, underpayment. The employee is entitled to the cost of provisioning that space, no different to any other commercial property. So effectively the corporations stole rent from the workers pay, the worker got paid less because they had to pay the cost of provisioning of office and equipment. How much would that space cost, effectively deducted from the employees wages.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does an on-site employee offer more value than a remote one?

    Look at it from the company's side. If the company has to pay £X/year more to have the employee on-site, wouldn't that make the company bean-counters/managers look very closely at the extra value they get from having the employee on-site?

    If it turns out that remote employees perform just as well as on-site ones, wouldn't it become pretty hard to justify the extra costs of hiring on-site employees?

  26. ecofeco Silver badge

    Back to the office?

    Back to the office? Has the total sum of computing power at Google divined the pandemic is over?

    This is the real news!

    Oh wait, the pandemic is not over. Not anywhere near. Ah, well, there goes my remaining respect for Google.

    We need some kind of new "law." Call it, Eco Feco's Law. "The larger a tech company gets, the dumber it becomes." Until ultimately, the recto-cranial-inversion looks almost like the head is back in its normal place. Albeit with a brown sheen.

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