Google and Amazon struggle to trim European staff, resort to payouts
Tech giants have been firing thousands of employees since last year and the process is ongoing in many locations. While some regions have already laid off workers, Google and Amazon are having difficulty cutting jobs in European countries.
According to Bloomberg, major technology companies are facing challenges in reducing their workforce due to stringent labour laws in Europe. While firms in the US can publicly announce layoffs and eliminate hundreds of positions within a matter of months, they cannot be reduced to thousands.
In contrast, in Europe, tech giants such as Google and Amazon are finding it challenging to terminate a large number of employees, and the process of downsizing has been halted due to labour protection laws that require them to consult with "employee interest groups" before removing individuals in certain countries.
As a result, numerous tech employees in Europe are experiencing confusion and stress over the uncertain outcome of prolonged negotiations. The aforementioned source notes that France and Germany have particularly stringent labour laws compared to other EU countries. Consequently, Google is attempting to navigate the downsizing process by collaborating with groups of elected employee representatives who negotiate with management to address workforce concerns.
The tech firms are obligated by law to consult with these councils prior to implementing layoffs. This process entails gathering data, engaging in discussions, and allowing for the option of appealing, which can be potentially time-consuming.
As per the same report, Alphabet, Google's parent company, is encouraging employees in France to resign voluntarily by providing attractive severance packages. The aim is to ensure that employees do not encounter any problems and willingly resign from their positions.
On the contrary, Amazon is also allegedly attempting to persuade certain senior managers with 5-8 years of experience to resign by providing a one-year salary package and granting "leave to departing employees so their shares can vest and be paid out as bonuses," as per the insider familiar with the company's internal affairs.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the e-commerce giant is terminating employees during their probationary periods and providing them with the choice to leave voluntarily. “We have been working carefully and individually through each country where reductions are taking place to fully adhere to local legal requirements, which vary per location, are complex, and take time,” a Google spokesperson said.
Earlier this year, Google declared that it would lay off up to 12,000 workers. In the previous year, Amazon announced the downsizing of 18,000 employees, and a few weeks ago, it was disclosed that the company plans to terminate 9,000 additional workers with the process set to conclude by the end of April.
At present, Google is collaborating with the council to determine the quantity and categories of employees to be included in a voluntary departure scheme. As per reports, 500 out of 8,000 employees in the UK will be requested to leave, and they will receive private severance packages.
It is speculated that Google is willing to negotiate remuneration plans but not the number of departures. Furthermore, over 200 people are anticipated to be laid off by Google in Dublin and Zurich.