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What Happens To Google Employees When They Die? 170

Hugh Pickens writes "Forbes Magazine reports that employee benefits of Google are among the best in the land—free haircuts, gourmet food, on-site doctors and high-tech "cleansing" toilets are among the most talked-about but the latest perk for Googlers extends into the afterlife. 'This might sound ridiculous,' says Google's Chief People Officer Laszlo Bock, 'But we've announced death benefits at Google.' Should a U.S. Googler pass away while under the employ of the 14-year old search giant, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. Even more surprising, a Google spokesperson confirms that there's 'no tenure requirement' for this benefit, meaning most of their 34 thousand Google employees qualify."
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What Happens To Google Employees When They Die?

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  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:33AM (#40963781)
    My company offers insurance benefits too, but they don't pay all of the cost.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's what I was thinking too. Most of the companies I have worked for offer some form of death and dismemberment insurance. If I lost a finger, $10,000. An arm, $50,000. If I died, that was $1,000,000 to my beneficiary.
    • by vandelais ( 164490 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:04AM (#40963933)

      No, it's worse than insurance. The company pays, so it's taxable to the recipient.

      • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Sunday August 12, 2012 @01:53PM (#40965329) Journal
        How did I know that someone would be here hating on Google even for this.
        • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @03:42PM (#40966059) Homepage Journal

          It isn't google-hating to say that their shit smells. I admire a lot of what Google does, and I particularly admire their desire to innovate bleeding edge tech all over the place. But I also get tired of some of the stupid shit they pull. And although it doesn't affect me, this idea of offering glorified insurance to their employees strikes me as particularly dumb.

          I'm into Android, and I am duly grateful that Google has created the only really open phone platform out there. But I'm pessimistic about its success because they keep totally redesigning the whole thing, because the development tools are barely beta quality, and because market fragmentation means you have to code for 2-year-old versions of the platform.

          I'm grateful that Google exists, but I do wish they'd grow up already.

      • Let me get this straight. This is worse than insurance because you have to pay taxes on it right?

        So you only get a large portion of the generous benefit that is rarely offered by other employers.

        Those bastards.

        • That it is worse than insurance is compeletely orthogonal to whether it is a generous benefit on google's part.

          Do you often get things like this confused? If I say "buy 1 get 2 free" is better than "buy 1 get 1 free" can you not help yourself from somehow interpreting me as saying "buy 1 get 1 free is crap"?

          • I love your pedantic rhetoricals. They give you a the air of superiority. Well played.

            "No, it's worse than insurance," was in reference to the grandparent's comment, "My company offers insurance benefits too, but they don't pay all of the cost."

            So if we're breaking this down in fine detail as seems your want, the statement that it is worse than insurance implies that something for free is worse than something you pay for.

            In case I didn't make it clear in my original post, my tone was intended to be playful.

            • Net the cost of the premium one would pay versus taxes on benefit, it is worse.
              Give my spouse a 10x salary insurance coverage premium instead of the same amount of wage pay. Cheaper for you, better for me.
              Especially after the unfortunate 'accident'

              • Good point, but only if Google doesn't offer life insurance as well. I'm not nearly smart enough to work for Google though, so I can't speak to that.
      • 100$ taxable at even 50% is still more than 0$ non-taxable.

        So, what google is doing is amazing. This is ON TOP of any life insurance the employee might have afterall!

    • by quarkscat ( 697644 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:21AM (#40964007)

      I worked for a time for a multinational company that offered free health insurance. The company was so cash-rich that they self-insured for that coverage, with an umbrella policy for outside insurance for catastrophic (major medical) coverage. The other nations that they had a corporate presence in had socialized medicine (Canada & Britain), and they wanted all their employees to share similar benefits. It made it rather simple accounting-wise to shift employees from one country to another for short & longish term projects. I rather doubt that they have the same benefit package today - that was nearly 20 years ago, and in the USA medical costs have skyrocketed by over 1,000 percent. Self-insurance saved this company a lot of money.

      This is basically what Google is doing with term life insurance, except that the $20 per month they charge sounds rather stingy in comparison, actuarially speaking, considering the average age of Google's employees.

      • Not sure if they still do, but in the 90's, Microsoft self-insured employees (administered by Aetna, though). Makes a lot of sense when you have a young, largely healthy workforce.

      • Most large companies self-insure health benefits in the US. It's not unusual at all; it makes the benefits cheaper; as an added bonus, they become governed by the rather loose ERISA law instead of the (usually stricter) regulations of 50 different states. I'm sure there are other advantages, but you'd have to ask an accountant what they are.

        My company does this; they hire an administrator to handle claims, but the funding to pay said claims comes direct from the company's coffers. Why pay an insurance co

      • This is basically what Google is doing with term life insurance, except that the $20 per month they charge sounds rather stingy in comparison

        What $20 per month? There is no employee cost for the survivor benefit discussed in the article. Google also offers traditional life insurance, which is fully paid by the company in some amount and can be increased with an employee contribution, and it's quite cheap compared to other term life policies I've looked at.

    • That's what's strange about this announcement to me... I've worked at the same place for 13 years now, and the benefits - retirements, health care, vacation time - have all gone steadily in one direction: down, down, down. Please, god, does this mean we've reached the low ebb of the benefit-slashing trend?
      • Please, god, does this mean we've reached the low ebb of the benefit-slashing trend?

        Of course not silly.

        "Remember, when things are looking as dark as possible, they usually get considerably worse"

        (RAH paraphrased)

      • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

        No, this means if you are smart enough to not live in the US, or are lucky enough to work at one of the few competitive industries in the US you can still get reasonable benefits.

        Everyone else is being treated as parasite on the system and will need to see their pay and benefits reduced accordingly until the only competitive businesses revolve around extremely profitable high tech industries and/or the exploitation of slave labour where you are now competing for a job by offering to lower your salary to tha

      • by Surt ( 22457 )

        It means google is competing in the most intense job market in the world (silicon valley), where benefits and pay are both on a steady upward spiral that has most of the people in the area earning 4 times the national average (~160K vs ~40k). They are boosting both to keep employees from defecting to startups or competitors. And so are the startups and competitors.

      • by fm6 ( 162816 )

        Sorry no. Google has huge cash inputs, and their stock is structured so their shareholders have no actual say in how the company is run. So there are no equity capitalists looking over their shoulder telling them that they're making too little and spending too much. Google is pretty much unique in that respect, which is why the Mitt Romneys of the world are rich and the rest of us aren't.

    • I'v never heard of life insurance that pays out for a decade. My company life insurance is a one time payment of twice my salary, or four years of the google death benefit which seems more like a pension than insurance to me.

      • by goldcd ( 587052 )
        I think my missus gets 3.5x my salary as a lump sum.
        Makes me wonder when I see she has "innocently" abandoned a pair of her shoes at the top of the stairs..
    • My company does pay all the costs, except for income tax on the value of the benefit. And they do the instant vesting of stock that's mentioned in the article too. Google has some uncommonly good benefits, but this ain't one of them. I guess Forbes writers don't get life insurance, otherwise maybe the association would have occurred to her.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:34AM (#40963783)

    This is mere marketroid speak for life insurance.
    My company, in the finanacial sector, subsidizes almost-free life insurance (~$20/month) that pays out 5x my salary - which is more or less 50% over tens years.
    Had they need of attracting talent, they could swallow that lously $20 and just market it as FREE MONEY.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      That was my thought too. Its a free life insurance policy. A nice gesture, but not something magical.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Google also has a life insurance policy that's provided for free. This is in addition to that.

    • by canadian_right ( 410687 ) <> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:42PM (#40965683) Homepage

      Most life insurance is a one time payment. You can invest it, but generally it would not provide 50% of your salary for 10 years. I would call it a small pension.

      Typical company life insurance is double your current salary paid in one lump sum. Ten years at 50% is five times your salary.

    • This is mere marketroid speak for life insurance. My company, in the finanacial sector, subsidizes almost-free life insurance (~$20/month) that pays out 5x my salary - which is more or less 50% over tens years.

      Google does that, too. This survivor salary benefit is on top of that, at no additional cost.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Rise of unexplained deaths skyrocket inside the Googleplex.

  • by Stickerboy ( 61554 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:36AM (#40963793) Homepage

    That's subsidized by the company. Is this really news? It's also not what most financial advisors tell you to get from full coverage if you purchase your own, either. Standard is 10 years of full salary - a Googler can always purchase more to make up the difference.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The standard death benefit in the US is 2 years salary. You can increase this to 10 years with evidence of insurability. The additional benefit payable to your spouse (50% of monthly salary paid every month for 10 years) is automatic.

    • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:16AM (#40964247)
      It is a big deal because it says 'Google' on it. I tried writing 'Google' on my garbage and people lined up to get a beta invitation.
      • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )
        Actually they were identity thieves looking for something with your. SSN or other personal info to rip you off.
    • There is no such thing as a "standard" amount of insurance. Any financial adviser that says such a thing is either lazy (because he doesn't want to calculate your actual insurance needs) or lying (if you don't really need ten years of coverage) or both.

      How much insurance SHOULD you get? Enough to meet the reasonable financial needs of your heirs that cannot be met because of your missing presence and salary.

      A single person with no dependents can get by with minimum coverage; enough to cover his/her funera

  • by curious.corn ( 167387 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:37AM (#40963797)
    and it's part of social security here (of course you get to pay a couple EURs a month for the privilege). But I guess this over-the-top socialist expropriation of financial assets doesn't resonate with the you folks across the ocean... but it does qualify for a good bullet point in the "benefits" employment contract section. Yep, us european are decadent spoilt brats... :P
    • and it's part of social security here (of course you get to pay a couple EURs a month for the privilege). But I guess this over-the-top socialist expropriation of financial assets doesn't resonate with the you folks across the ocean... but it does qualify for a good bullet point in the "benefits" employment contract section. Yep, us european are decadent spoilt brats... :P

      How much is a "couple euro" to you? My German brother-in-law pays almost twice as much for the "privilege" than I pay for my medical and life insurance combined. I have no co-pay when I go to the doctor while his is 20 Euro. My widowed mother-in-law's retirement check has decreased four years in a row and prices have increased. Decadent indeed.

      • My German brother-in-law .... I have no co-pay when I go to the doctor while his is 20 Euro.

        What?! Here in Germany, we "co-pay" 10 euro a quarter if we use medical services that quarter. So, if he's sickly and visits the doctor often, he'll be paying 40 euro a year. His prescriptions will cost nothing and additional doctors visits within that quarter will also require no additional "co-pay".

        If your brother-in-law really is handing over 20 euro every time he goes to the doctor, you should tell him to read up on the system here; find a new doctor; and report the old one to the authorities.

        Over th

    • It's definitely not normal here in Portugal. In fact, it's unheard of.

    • This is also something more or less normal here in Switzerland, the exact % being heavily influenced by your number of kids and their age.
  • Don't most big companies offer a retirement package that give money out for the life of the spouse?
    Sure it will not kick in as quickly as this or offer 50% unless you have paid into it for a long time, but a decade is far to short.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      This is life insurance. I assume Google also offers a retirement package, but that's different.
    • by charnov ( 183495 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:21AM (#40964267) Homepage Journal []

      Most Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets. Typical life insurance pays less than $250,000 and hardly anything outside of government employees get pensions anymore. Even then, pensions aren't safe as several have been wiped out due to the 2008 stock market crash or through bankruptcy. 401k personal retirement funds are the norm or most people and they have tax benefits along with 25% - 100% matching funds from your employer but more and more people either cannot afford to pay into them or are actively borrowing against them. After 2 years of unemployment, my 401k is empty.

      I am 40, employed with a very shaky job at $35k less than I was making before and no retirement, no health care, and am racking up debt to pay for more college as I try to get a masters degree to be more employable. My plan is to GTFO of the US and go some place where quality of life is the focus and not on corporate profits... Mars, maybe?

      • So typical life insurance is better than this deal? Or are you no-typical? $35k *0.5 * 10 = $175k which is less than the $250k you mention.

        Large chunks of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, maybe even Canada (though I've never really looked) meet your criteria and are a tad more realistic than Mars. Of course living and working legally elsewhere isn't cheap or easy. And freeing yourself from the claws of the IRS is even less easy and cheap (you'll need to get citizenship elsewhere before you can ditch the US c

        • I said 35K LESS. I used to make 80K. I also have all the debt of someone at that level (about $1400/mth just in debt). A typical Googler pay is around $125k plus. They are at the top of the pay scale. So 50% for 10 years would be $625k PLUS whatever life insurance they had. At that income level I would expect at least $1 million.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:43AM (#40963819)

    Like many people, I too wonder what happens after death, even to Google employees. Do they go to Heaven or Hell? Do they get uploaded to the web? Do they just expire? Inquiring minds want to know.

    One thing is for sure, the dead people don't get money from Google because Google is giving that money to someone else.

    • Dead people don't have bank accounts for it to be deposited in.

      What are they supposed to do, stash it in their coffin where it can't get spent?

      • by drkim ( 1559875 )

        That's the genius part of this plan; Google drops a check in your coffin every year!!

        ...but actually, dead people can have bank accounts, real estate, etc. It's called your 'estate.' Just ask M.J.

    • Working at Google, their every thought and every move has been recorded and their precise physical appearance and capabilities have been recored from photographs. Once GoogleYou is perfected, they will be able to reconstruct the dead employees' personalities and download them into new robotic bodies. The GoogleYou replacement will be programmed to never even know you were dead.
      • by Surt ( 22457 )

        And because Google employees have very low IQs, they won't figure it out, either. ;-)

  • When benefits (such as health care and pensions) are subsidized by the taxpayers, it makes sense for a company to provide those benefits. But for things like life insurance, where the company bears the full cost, it makes little sense. They should just pay the money to the employees, and let them decide for themselves what to spend it on.

    • This probably costs Google something like a few dollars per year per employee.

      Insurance costs in general are cheaper for larger groups, on a per-person basis.

      • Or rather they are cheaper for low-risk groups. And Google employees are young (but not too young), well-educated, eat healthy foods from the Google Cafeteria, work out on office time in the office gym, and never drive their Priuses over the speed limit. That's got to be one of the lowest risk groups in the world.

        • by Surt ( 22457 )

          The food in the Google cafeterias is not healthy. It is very high in fat and cholesterol, among other risk factors.

          • by Torne ( 78524 )

            The food in Google cafeterias covers a broad range of healthy and not really healthy choices, with a clear labelling system. People can choose to eat as well (or as badly) as they like, because yaknow, that's how you please the broadest range of people while also encouraging them to think a little about what they are eating.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      It makes sense for several reasons. First, group insurance rates are lower than what a person would get individually. Second, it's such a good idea for most people that it makes sense to ensure everyone has it. There might also be tax advantages, and apparently Google is trying to get some good PR too.

      Making healthcare and pension pre-tax encourages employers to offer them, which is good for society in the long run. I wouldn't call them subsidies, but I suppose if you think the government should provide ev

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @11:29AM (#40964301)

        Making healthcare and pension pre-tax encourages employers to offer them, which is good for society in the long run.

        Is it really good for society? My company has a 401k pension plan with an employer match. Nearly all well-paid employees participate, and basically quadruple their money (the match doubles it, the tax break roughly doubles it again). But the warehouse crew and other low paid employees participate at a much lower rate, or participate for a while and then drop out and withdraw all their money so they can pay 75% in penalties and use the other 25% to buy a big screen TV or whatever. When they drop out, their unvested matching money is distributed to the other (mostly high salaried) participants. As far as I can see, our 401k plan is just a scheme for tax dollars to go into the pockets of relatively well-off people. The vesting requirement also coerces people into sticking with an unhappy job, instead of seeking other alternatives where they may be happier and more productive.

        I am not sure employer funded healthcare is good for society either. If individuals pay for their own care, they have a clear incentive to balance costs and benefits. If the government pays for healthcare, they have the incentive and power to control costs as well. But individual businesses have little power over insurance companies, and when an employee goes to a doctor, the employee has little concern for cost. So we get medical cost inflation that is double the CPI.

        During the communist days in China, each factory would run their own schools for the children of their workers. If you changed jobs, and started working at a different factory, your kids had to change schools. That seems insane to us, but does it really make any more sense for your employer to choose your doctor or life insurance?

    • When benefits (such as health care and pensions) are subsidized by the taxpayers, it makes sense for a company to provide those benefits. But for things like life insurance, where the company bears the full cost, it makes little sense. They should just pay the money to the employees, and let them decide for themselves what to spend it on.

      It makes sense if Google is holding life insurance policies against its employees; policies that pay Google upon death. Part of the payout could be an annuity for any surviving spouse or domestic partner and children. Since Google employees are well paid with high earning potentials, the money paid to Google could cover the cost of the program or even make money for Google. Having very generous benefits would lessen any feelings of resentment over the company profiting from employees dying, while also demon

      • by Surt ( 22457 )

        If such a program makes money for Google, there is an insurance actuary somewhere getting his ass fired.

    • There is a huge tax benefit to setting up a closely held insurance company, and it might even be a way to bring offshore profits onshore without a tax penalty. It also serves as an effective long-term retention tool, since you lose your term life coverage if you quit.

      Insurance is a scam, but when you get to play at the table too things can get interesting.

      • Insurance is not always a scam.

        Sure averaged out over everyone insurance better cost more than the benefits it delivers (or else your insurance company is going broke and not going to be able to pay you anyway). But for unlikely events that have huge financial impacts insurance can be perfectly rational.

        Insuring my TV against being stolen/destroyed would be silly - it's cheap enough that I can just buy another one and I can live without it easily enough too. Insuring my car against being stolen/destroyed wo

  • by MDMurphy ( 208495 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:49AM (#40963837)

    Google could have this benefit in lieu of paying for policies that pay a multiple of the annual salary like some other companies have. Or they could have policies on the employees that pay Google 10x the salary and they're sharing 50% of that as the as the primary benefit, the remainder funding the benefits for children that carry on until they're 19 (or 23)

    What's interesting is that the article says the 50% pay benefit is for spouses or domestic partners, doesn't mentioned beneficiaries. If that's accurate then single employees don't have the same benefit paid out to anyone. That would be different than an insurance policy where you can designate the recipient. The article says that this company benefit would apply to most of their 34k employees, but that would only be the case if most of the employees had partners and/or children.

    • Just because it is not mentioned in the article, it does not mean it does not exist. 1000$ a month for all child benefiicaries. Some tuition payments are there. What I don't know is, if this is in addition to the standard group life insurance offered at most companies. Typically 3X to 5X salary for between $10 and $25 a month. Typically capped at 1X = 50 to 75K. If it is in addition, it is great, but again worth about 20$ a month. If it is in lieu of, then meh, INBD.
  • by TheRedSeven ( 1234758 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @09:51AM (#40963853) Homepage
    That's essentially a company-paid life insurance policy of 5x annual salary (slightly less, actually, since it's annuitized). When I worked as a call center grunt shortly out of college, we were given a 1x annual salary term life insurance policy paid for by the company. With an option of paying something like $0.35/month for 3x annual salary term life insurance.

    This is really not the crazy-off-the-wall benefit that it's being made out to be. It's good, to be sure, but not unheard of.
    • Except that this benefit is in addition to the normal company-paid life insurance policy.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      My employer used to offer 1x salary for free, up to 6x for a very modest premium, and in addition to that they also offered a spouse 50% of income for the rest of their life or until they remarried.

      The latter has gone away in favor of a one-time distribution - I think now it goes up to 8x salary, but again only 1x is free.

  • Ten Google employees die under mysterious, yet seemingly unrelated, circumstances.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Recommended to the spirit in the sky...

  • 1. Marry someone at Google.
    2. Hire an assassin.
    3. Profit!!!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Too small scale.

      1. Create a polygamous cult.
      2. Marry several someones at Google.
      3. Pass out Kool-Aid®.
      4. Profit!

  • "but the latest perk for Googlers extends into the afterlife."

    To extend into afterlife, they would have to do something for you after you died. For example, if they sent you a new Android phone each year into paradise (or hell, should you go there), that would be an extension into afterlife.

  • They are all uploaded to the Cloud.

  • by hierofalcon ( 1233282 ) on Sunday August 12, 2012 @10:39AM (#40964097)

    I'd suspect that the average age of an employee at Google or most tech companies is so low compared to the rest of the business world that they expect to rarely pay out anything. If most of their workforce were expected to stick around till retirement age and it would actually cost them significant bucks due to natural causes versus accidental causes, I doubt they would be offering this benefit.

    Just my cynical 2c worth

    • You'd be surprised. One of the most pleasant discoveries I made when I joined Google (at age 41) was that I work with a lot of guys with gray hair. There are a fair number of kids straight out of school, but out of my 50-person extended team, there are at least a dozen of us in our 40s, a handful in their 50s and a couple of people in their 60s. The median age is probably in the late 30s.

      What is kind of odd is that most of the "senior" engineers in the company are people who joined the company early wh

  • I work in the IT wing of a bank. My pay is around 50k and if I die my wife gets 350k plus gets half my pension for the rest of her life.
    • by drkim ( 1559875 )

      ...and you wonder why your wife signed you up for that "Knife-Of-The-Month-Club" for your anniversary.

    • Can you please get the webmasters to hash our passwords instead of storing them in the DB in cleartext, and limiting the number and type of characters I can provide? If you work at a bank that already does this, may the gods favor you; Otherwise... Well, at least you have this contingency plan.
  • Hmmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 )

    While sounding somewhat good, this also has a potential downside.

    What I am saying is - if you are working for Google and you have a spouse, make sure they don't want to see you dead, because all of a sudden this may become a lucrative enterprise. I mean, there is clearly a well defined step 2 in the: step 1, step 2, profit! scheme.

  • More Google employees dying of mysterious causes than microbiologists. More at 11.
  • walmart used to have KeyMan insurance on most of there workers and they got sued as they did not pay out.

    Now Google is at least paying the family's but they still may be a some risk under the law and having it on all workers may also be breaking the law.

  • They mention `Google`, one of the greatest tech companies in the world
    and 'check' in one sentence.

    FWIW: in other parts of the world we do payments via electronic means all over the continent at lower cost and at quicker speeds.
    Why didn't an ex-Googler work on the check-problem yet?
  • Everyone's life insurance/AD&D/long term disability benefits provide the same thing for around $10/paycheck and there is usually a base level provided at no extra cost. The biggest news here is that Google is apparently developing its own reality distortion field.

  • In my evil socialist european country, the surviving spouse gets 100% for the rest of his/her life.

  • I suspect Google has simply taken out insurance policies against all their employees for between 5x and say 10x their annual salary. Given the likelyhood that few "googlers" will die in a given year, the cost is probably pretty minimal to Google.

    Am I criticising them for doing this, heavens no, but this is something the average person could probably set up themselves using life insurance.

    Ten years of half pay equals something less than 5x annual pay, given the time value of money - maybe about 3x base salar

  • "What Happens To Google Employees When They Die?"

    They become dead. Next question.

    Oh, its actually an article? Well then, it should read: What Happens When Google Employees Die?
    Considering it's supposed to be an article instead of a thinly veiled slashvertizement, I still say it's all hogwash; Totally just hypothetical conjecture. No one really knows what will actually happen until we test the hypothesis.
    Murder?! NO, Science!

  • They go to the big Cloud in the sky.

    Thanks, I'll be here all day. Try the fish.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong