Despite extra money in its budget from events canceled due to the coronavirus, Google told its employees Wednesday that they cannot expense food for virtual Zoom meetings or give to charity using the surplus, according to a report by CNBC.
Google told workers in a companywide email last week that they could not continue to expense items like furniture, decorations, fitness equipment, gifts, and food while working from home. It also said the surplus of cash in unused travel and event funds could not be used to donate to charities of an employee’s choosing.
In the email obtained by CNBC, the company said: “We know that Googlers are eager to give back to their communities and support COVID-19 relief efforts, but the Internal Events budget should not be donated to local charities/organizations.
“These policies help ensure reporting and tax compliance, as well as consistency and fairness for Googlers across teams.”
Digital Trends reached out to Google about the policy, and to find out how many Google employees have been expensing lunches from home. We’ll update this story when we hear back.
This latest policy comes less than a week after Google reported its first-quarter financials. Though strong, executives gave little indication of how the second quarter will pan out given widespread shutdowns and loss of advertising spending, only saying it will be a “difficult one.”
Google employees notoriously have lavish perks available to them at the office — a seemingly endless amount of meals and snacks, free transportation shuttles, dry cleaning, and gym memberships, as well as discounts at renowned museums.
Since the coronavirus has shuttered nearly every Google campus across the globe, employees have taken to social media to complain about the loss of such posh benefits, giving a whole new meaning to “first world problems” — or rather, the epitome of spoiled Silicon Valley workers.
The company was one of the first tech giants to cancel a major event due to the virus, scrapping its annual I/O developer conference in early March, before many shelter-in-place orders were in effect. The event had been scheduled to take place May 12.
Google employees are not expected to return to the offices before June at the earliest. So until then, many will have to continue to rely on their own cooking skills, without reimbursement.
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