Google may be preparing to lay off thousands of workers, if a Silicon Valley information service is to be believed.

WebGuild cites anonymous inside sources as saying up to 10,000 Google jobs could be on the way out, with smaller scale layoffs already underway.

"Hundreds" of employees have been let go in the past few months, the company's sources claim - and, they say, a loophole has allowed Google to keep quiet about the cutbacks. The trick, WebGuild reports, all comes down to categories: Google classifies about 10,000 of its workers as "temporary operational expenses," which means their positions are not official and could be eliminated without public notification.

"Google has hundreds of lawyers figuring out how not to get caught," WebGuild president Daya Baran suggests.

"One of them is by moving workers from job to job every few months so that their status remains temporary. That is why you probably have never spoken to the same person twice at Google and that is also why there is somebody new on the job and most times you know more about their job than they do," he says.

Google has yet to publicly comment on any of the speculation.