Google mandates COVID vaccines, delays return to office

Google is pushing back its return to the office until at least October and will require employees to be vaccinated, the company said Wednesday.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that workers who return to the company’s offices must be vaccinated, with exemptions for “medical or other protected reasons.”

While other big tech companies have encouraged employees to get vaccinated, Google is the first to mandate shots.

Pichai added that while some of Google’s 144,000 employees around the world have already returned to offices on a voluntary basis, none will be required to report in person until at least October 18.

That deadline could be pushed back further — and employees will have at least 30 days’ notice before they will be required to return. Workers with unspecified “special circumstances” will be able to apply to work from home through the end of 2021.

“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 said.

A Google office
“We recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.
REUTERS

The news comes amid surging coronavirus cases that prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend yesterday that vaccinated Americans in high-risk areas — including New York City — wear masks indoors.

That development is causing companies across industries to rethink their plans for in-person this fall.

Google’s announcement comes one week after Apple made a similar move by pushing back the company’s return-to-office date from September to at least October.

A reflection of Google's logo.
While some of Google’s 144,000 employees around the world have already returned to offices on a voluntary basis, none will be required to report in person until at least October 18.
AFP via Getty Images

Other tech companies including Twitter and Facebook have said many employees are welcome to work remotely forever — although Facebook plans to slash pay for employees who leave Silicon Valley for cheaper areas.

After the pandemic, Google expects most employees to return to in-person work at least three days per week.

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