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Google's APAC outpost joins the global job cuts club

Almost 200 staff let go with emails that landed late at night

Google's Asia Pacific headquarters has laid off an estimated 190 employees – around six per cent of staff – and did the deed by email.

According to Christopher Fong, founder of alumni community Xoogler, the digital pink slips arrived after 11PM on February 16th.

Some had seen the writing on the wall after Google announced last month that 12,000 staff would be shown the door. Many saw colleagues in other parts of the world affected and braced for local impact.

On the other hand, one newly arrived Xoogler had recently moved his entire family to Singapore for the job and signed a long-term housing lease.

The city-state has recently experienced a surge of up to 70 percent in house rental prices for expats in the past few months and prices are tipped to keep rising. Most residential leases in Singapore include a "Diplomatic Clause" that allows a lease to be terminated if a foreigner loses their job – however the lease holder must typically be at least one year into the tenancy for the mostly penalty-free termination to be offered.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai revealed in January 2022 that Google's pandemic hiring spree had placed the company's headcount in a "different economic reality." Pichai said the affected roles would "cut across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels and regions."

According to Singapore's Straits Times, the retrenchments hit those working on Google Pay, Google Cloud, and Google Analytics, as well as employees in finance, legal, and trust & safety roles.

Pichai gave assurances that retrenched staff would receive the full notice period (minimum 60 days), a severance package starting at 16 weeks, 2022 bonuses and holiday leave, as well as half a year of healthcare benefits.

Such layoff benefits are not required in Singapore, but those affected were reportedly offered comparable packages. ®

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