A CNBC report on Tuesday citing internal documents announced that Google has told its employees they would lose pay and eventually be fired if they do not follow its COVID-19 vaccination rules. A memo circulated by Google’s leadership said employees had until 3rd December to declare their vaccination status and upload documentation showing proof or to apply for a medical or religious exemption, says the report. Employees who haven’t complied with the vaccination rules by the January 18 deadline will be placed on ‘paid administrative leave’ for 30 days. After that, the company will put them on ‘unpaid personal leave’ for up to six months, followed by termination.
This mandate is followed by the Biden administration’s executive order that U.S. companies with 100 or more workers should ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19 by 18th January. A federal court issued a stay on the order in early November, putting a halt to the administration’s efforts. However, Google indicated that it plans on following Biden’s order and asked more than 150,000 employees to upload their vaccination status to its internal system, regardless of whether they plan on coming into the office or not.
Earlier this month, Google had put its return-to-office plan on halt indefinitely amid Omicron variant fears and resistance from its employees to company-mandated vaccinations. It earlier expected its employees to return to the office for about three days a week starting 10th January.
Google’s mandate comes during the ‘overwhelming’ spread of the Omicron variant across the globe. So far, WHO has flagged 77 countries with reports of the variant and a possibility that more countries have it despite the lack of detection. Officials have issued warnings to deter the rapid spread of the Omicron variant with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declaring, ‘The sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems.’
Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also warned of a looming ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron coming. The new variant has hindered the process of employees returning to the office with cases being detected among fully vaccinated individuals. So far, WHO has approved 8 vaccines for use with many countries now discussing the need for a booster shot for high-risk populations.