Google to offer gay staff extra pay to allow for tax inequality with straight couples
By Scott Warren
Last updated at 6:14 PM on 1st July 2010
INTERNET giant Google today began paying its gay staff more than heterosexual employees in the latest example of its lavish perks culture.
Lesbian and homosexual staff will get extra wages to make up for higher taxes they have to pay.
Google is already famed as an extremely benevolent employer, giving its workforce free food, free laundry and five months’ maternity leave on full pay.
New payment: Gay Google employees will now be given extra pay to allow for a tax that is not levied on straight employees
And given the competitive nature of California’s Silicon Valley, where companies use extra perks to attract top employees, more are expected to follow suit, experts said.
The search engine decided it was only fair to bump up the salaries of its gay staff, a spokesman said.
Under U.S. law, when a firm offers health insurance as a benefit for an employee’s partner, it is tax-free for married couples but taxable income for gays.
Google will make up the difference in additional pay, on average £650 a year.
The move was announced today and is being backdated to January 1.
The firm will also speed up infertility benefits for lesbian and homosexual staff and include their partners in its compassionate leave policy.
How many of Google’s 20,600 employees will be affected by the changes is unclear, but the company’s internal gay group — who call themselves Gayglers — counts around 700 members.
The measures only apply to the workforce in the U.S.
Personnel chief Laszlo Bock, Google’s ‘vice president for people operations,’ said the firm decided to act when an employee pointed out the disparity.
‘We said, “You’re right, that doesn’t seem fair,”‘ he said. He declined to reveal how much the changes will cost Google, which made profits of £4 billion last year.
The company is renowned for its innovative streak, and others usually follow its lead.
‘It could have a ripple effect. When you have a high-profile company doing anything, that tends to get into the mind of the culture, and it can have a more diffuse effect,’ said corporate benefits consultant Kathleen Murray.
But Google has also earned a sinister reputation thanks to blunders by its controversial Street View service, which has sent ‘camera cars’ to take pictures along every road in Britain.
On Wednesday Claire Rowlands, 25, told how she was stunned to see a photograph of her three-year-old son Louis naked on Street View.
He had been snapped as he played in his grandmother’s garden in Walkden, Greater Manchester.
Google blurred out the registration plate of a car on the drive of the house – but the image of Louis, who was wearing nothing but his shoes, was uncensored.