Google and Facebook To Require COVID-19 Vaccinations Before Employees Return To Office

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, CNBC Television

Tech giants Google and Facebook Inc (Nasdaq:  FB) will require its US employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to the office.

In a blog post Wednesday, Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google and its parent Alphabet Inc (Nasdaq:  GOOGL), said the mandate will would be in effect at its US offices in coming weeks and eventually required at other locations. 

“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead," Pichai wrote.

Shortly after Google’s announcement, Facebook said that when its US offices re-open, only vaccinated workers will be permitted on campus.

"How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations. We will have a process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons and will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves," Lori Goler, Facebook's vice president of people, wrote in a statement.

The announcements come less than a day after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised earlier mask recommendations for fully vaccinated people, saying that they should resume wearing masks indoors in places with high COVID-19 transmission rates. 

In discussing the revised guidelines, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the change was due to new data on the Delta variant that showed some vaccinated people infected by the strain could spread it to others.

The move Wednesday by two of Silicon Valley’s biggest players could push other employers to enact similar requirements, NPR noted.

Over the past week, California and New York City have announced that official employees would need to get vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests. President Joe Biden is expected to make a similar announcement on Thursday for the country’s two million federal workers.

So far, other major tech companies, including Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc, have not implemented vaccine mandates. 

Microsoft Corporation has told employees it will not require vaccination, but company executives have recommended that workers receive the shot. Twitter Inc previously said returning workers are required to show proof of vaccination before coming back, according to NPR.

After more than a year of remote work, tech companies are trying to figure out when and how to bring workers back to the office.  Those plans may be undone, however, following worries over the highly contagious Delta variant, which is quickly spreading in all 50 states, particularly among unvaccinated communities. 

Google and Apple have already shifted gears and extended work-from-home options out of concern for employee health and safety.

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On Wednesday, Pichai said Google would push back the return-to-office date for most of its 144,000 employees from September to mid-October.

“We are excited that we’ve started to re-open our campuses and encourage Googlers who feel safe coming to sites that have already opened to continue doing so,” Pichai wrote in an email to employees. “At the same time, we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office.” 

Pichai also assured employees that the company will continue to monitor data and notify workers at least 30 days in advance before transition into a full return. Employees in “special circumstances” will be able to apply to work from home for the remainder of the year. 

Apple last week also postponed a return to the office from September to October, at the earliest, Bloomberg News reported, citing a source at the tech giant.

As of Thursday, Apple will start requiring customers and staff to wear masks in its US retail stores, regardless of vaccination status. 

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Source: Equities News

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