Google parent company Alphabet announced Tuesday it has established a fund to cover paid sick leave for all employees affected by the COVID-19 virus, including temporary and contract workers.
The new fund will cover the paid sick time for any member of what the company calls its “extended workforce” who don’t currently have paid sick leave, including testing, self-quarantine, or treatment.
Google has also taken the unusual step of requesting that all North American employees work from home if their roles allow. Alphabet employs more than 100,000 people worldwide, the vast majority of whom live in the United States, a company representative told TheWrap.
Even if members of Google’s extended workforce are unable to work, they will be compensated for their normal working hours under the new fund.
“We are carefully monitoring the situation and will continue to assess any adjustments needed over the coming months,” Google said in an email, indicating it expects the precautions to continue into the near future.
“The United States does not have federal laws mandating paid sick leave. Last year we introduced new requirements for all companies that employ U.S. vendors and temporary staff assigned to Google, making it mandatory for them to provide their employees with paid sick leave (in addition to other minimum benefits required), in order to do business with Google. This is rolling out to their employees,” A Google spokesperson told TheWrap.
“As we’re in a transition period in the U.S.– and to cover any gaps elsewhere in the world–Google is establishing a COVID-19 fund that will enable all our temporary staff and vendors, globally, to take paid sick leave if they have potential symptoms of COVID-19, or can’t come into work because they’re quarantined,” the spokesperson added.
Other tech companies have taken similar measures this week.
Microsoft and Amazon, which both have sizable operations in the state of Washington, joined nonprofit The Seattle Fund Tuesday to contribute to its COVID-19 Response Fund. The fund is launching with a $2.5 million effort to provide grants to organizations that assist at-risk people who are uninsured or unable to take paid sick leave, such as temporary workers.
Last week Google asked its eligible Seattle-area employees to work from home and said it would limit staff travel to areas that have experienced virus outbreaks including China, Japan, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.
Google’s I/O developer conference, held annually at the tech giant’s headquarters in Mountain View, was canceled March 3. The conference was scheduled for May 12-14 and attracted roughly 7,000 people last year.
Business Insider first reported that Google is asking North American employees to work from home.
Google would not confirm the size of the fund when asked by TheWrap.