Google will hire roughly 4,000 full-time customer support staffers following criticism about its ‘shadow workforce’

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Stephen Lam/Reuters
  • Google announced in a blog post Thursday that it plans to significantly expand its in-house customer support operations in 2020 by hiring more full-time employees.
  • The move would be a big change for Google, which relies heavily on contract workers for various business functions.
  • The announcement comes several months after lawmakers criticized the company for using contractors to avoid paying benefits typically extended to full-time workers.
  • Google plans to open a new facility in Mississippi that, along with new and expanding locations in India and the Philippines, will house its growing customer support staff.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google will hire thousands of full-time customer support employees in the coming year and open a new support center in Mississippi, a move that may assuage criticism that the internet giant relies too heavily on lower-cost temp workers.

Google announced the plans in a blog post on Thursday, signalling a big change for the company which relies on a vast workforce of temporary workers, third-party vendors, and contract workers in addition to the roughly 114,000 full-time workers on its payroll.

The customer support employees will handle product troubleshooting, customer phone calls and assist marketers setting up advertising campaigns with Google’s internet products, Google said. The workers will receive “industry-leading wages and benefits,” including three weeks of paid vacation, up to 22 weeks of paid parental leave and comprehensive health benefits, the company said.

The announcement comes just a few months after a group of lawmakers called on Google to reclassify its temp workers as full-time employees, accusing the company of inappropriately using the distinction to avoid paying wages and benefits typically enjoyed by full-time Googlers.

Google’s temp and contract workers have complained about being treated like second-class citizens and a “shadow workforce” at Google, publishing an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai in December 2018.

Expanding a pilot program

Google had initially launched a pilot program in 2018 to bring on full-time customer support workers in the Philippines. In Tuesday’s announcement, the company said that it plans to expand on the program by hiring up to 3,800 full-time customer support employees by the end of 2020 in addition to the 1,000 full-time employees it has already hired.

Google said it will open a new customer support operations facility in Mississippi, which will join new and expanding locations in India and the Philippines.

“As part of Google’s commitment to growing our workforce across America (earlier this year, Google announced a $13 billion investment across our U.S. offices and data centers) we wanted to expand our footprint in the Southeastern United States. Northwestern Mississippi has strong local talent, and we’re excited that GOC Mississippi marks Google’s first entry into the state,” a Google spokesperson told Business Insider in an emailed statement.

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