February 24, 2021
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Google offers free weekly COVID-19 tests to US employees


Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Richard Nieva/CNET

Google said Friday that it’s begun offering free at-home COVID-19 tests to its staff in the US, the latest perk for a company known for providing lavish benefits to its employees. 

The coronavirus tests are available through BioIQ, an Atlanta-based health care vendor that Google is partnering with to distribute the kits. Full-time staff and interns can take two tests a week. For now the program is open to Google’s 90,000 US employees, but the company plans to expand it globally next year, a spokesman said.

Employees can order the tests through BioIQ’s website. They’ll receive PCR-based nasal swab tests, which they can then send off to labs to be processed. The company said the testing is encouraged, but not required. The Wall Street Journal reported the news earlier. 

Google’s move comes as health care workers in the US began this week to administer the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Still, several counties in Google’s home state of California are under stay-at-home orders as health officials have worried about the capacity of hospitals.

Google was one of the first big companies to let its massive employee base work from home when the pandemic took hold in March. Earlier this week, the company said it’s pushing back its return to offices to September 2021. The tech giant is also considering a new model for the workweek post-pandemic. The pilot plan would have people work in the office for at least three days, while working the other days remotely. 

The free COVID-19 testing in only the latest perk Google is offering to its employees. The tech giant famously pioneered several corporate extravagances that’ve become the norm in Silicon Valley, including free food and gym service on campus. In May, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company would allow employees to expense up to $1,000 for equipment and furniture in their home offices, such as standing desks and ergonomic chairs. 

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