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Google announces more policy changes after employee protests

Google employees are demanding action and change to employee’s rights. (Reuters pic)

WASHINGTON: Google unveiled another round of policy changes to address employee concerns about misconduct at the world’s largest internet search company.

Staff can now lodge complaints and concerns about harassment and other misconduct at work via a new website. During meetings related to investigations, workers will have more freedom to bring along colleagues to support them. There’s also a new program to provide better care for employees during and after investigations, the company said Thursday.

“We want every Googler to walk into a workplace filled with dignity and respect,” Google’s global director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Melonie Parker, wrote in an email to employees, which was also posted publicly online.

By June, the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary will also complete a dedicated site for receiving concerns from temporary workers and vendors. Last year, temporary, vendor and contracted staff became a majority of Google’s workforce.

The latest changes come nearly six months after thousands of Google employees around the world staged walkout protests to demand changes to the way the company handles misconduct. In response, Google announced last November that it would stop forcing employees to handle sexual harassment and assault claims in arbitration rather than in court.

In February, the company announced a more sweeping change; dropping so-called forced arbitration for all current and future employees and allowing them to instead pursue courtroom class actions for all kinds of workplace complaints. Such moves, Parker wrote, “are all big changes that I hope show our real commitment.”

The internet giant came under fire this week from two leaders of last year’s walkout. They alleged in a message posted to internal mailing lists that Google has been retaliating against them. Google denied the claims. The employee activists, whose message was first reported by Wired, plan to hold a “town hall” meeting about the issue on Friday.

“What we see here is Google management scrambling to placate workers in the face of serious claims that the company retaliates against organisers and those who speak up about harassment and discrimination,” the advocacy group Tech Workers Coalition said in a statement Thursday.

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