Sunday Jan 29, 2023

Google demands staff vaccination, Apple delays return to office indefinitely –


Google has stated that it’s staff must be vaccinated against Covid-19 or face being placed on unpaid leave or possible dismissal.

An internal memo circulated between senior officials and seen by CNBC said that staff should prove their positive vaccination status by December 3rd or apply for exemption on medical or religious grounds.

Staff failing to upload documents by January 18th proving they’ve been vaccinated or exempt be will be placed on ‘paid administrative leave’ for 30 days, followed by a further six-month period of unpaid leave, after which their role could be terminated if they have still not complied.

The company has said it wants staff to return to its offices for at least three days a week starting in January, and the vaccine requirement is in keeping with the US government’s ruling that US companies with 100 or more staff must ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19 by January 18th.

“We expect that almost all roles at Google in the US will fall within the scope of the executive order,” Google’s memo said, according to CNBC.

“Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite.”

It added that regular testing was “not a valid alternative” to being vaccinated.

The vaccination rules will apply in the US first and are expected to be extended to other regions later.

Google’s management has pushed consistently for its staff to return to the office as soon as possible. In December 2020, the company said it expected all staff to work at least three days a week on site. This was revised in May 2021, when CEO Sundar Pichai said that he expected 60 per cent of Google’s staff to work in the office “a few days a week”.

Then in July, the tech giant, which has 150,000 employees, said staff must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before they will be allowed to return to the office and that this would happen in September, a date later moved back to October and then January.

In December, in view of the ongoing pandemic, Google said it would not require staff to return, but encouraged them to do so “where conditions allow”.

Meanwhile, Apple has delayed a planned return to the office ‘indefinitely’. The company had planned that office life should resume on February 1st (having previously earmarked dates in June, July, September and January), but changed its plans after the upsurge in cases caused by the Omicron variant.

Like Google, Apple has been keen to repopulate its office space, with CEO Tim Cook saying in June that videoconferencing “cannot replicate” certain aspects of working life.

However, in a memo to staff this week, Cook put back the February deadline to a date “yet to be determined”, according to NBC.

The memo also said that staff, including retail employees but excluding contractors and vendors, would be given $1,000 (£755) to spend on home office equipment.

This week Apple also reinstated a policy requiring all its retail customers in the US to wear masks.


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