Google has been illegally underpaying thousands of temporary workers in dozens of countries and delayed correcting the pay rates for more than two years as it attempted to cover up the problem, according to research reported by The Guardian and The New York Times.

Google executives have been aware since at least May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate temporary workers be paid equal rates to full-time employees performing similar work, according to the publications’ review of internal Google documents and emails. Concerned that a drastic policy change would call attention to the problem, Google in 2021 started applying the correct rates for new-hires only, but withheld more-expensive wholesale changes, according to the publications’ research.