Google rescinds mandatory vaccination policy for US staff

A computer generated image of a syringe with a mouse pointer hovering over it
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Google will no longer require vaccinations as a condition of employment for US workers, according to a new company memo.

First announced in November 2021, the heavily-opposed policy required staff members to report their vaccination status or apply for a medical or religious exemption by 18 January 2022 or be placed on paid leave for 30 days and eventually have their contracts terminated.

However, Google has now decided to scrap the vaccination condition, meaning that unvaccinated employees will be able to keep their jobs as well as enter the offices – although some conditions will remain.

These include mandatory negative COVID-19 tests and face masks, according to an internal memo sent by Google Real Estate and Workplace Services vice president David Radcliffe, as seen by CNBC.

In the email to Google’s San Francisco Bay Area staff, Radcliffe said that the offices are expected to “feel pretty similar to what it was like pre-Covid”, with employees being able to once again benefit from the campus’ massage and shuttle services, as well as gym walk-ins.

Vaccinated employees will be allowed to enter offices without being required to wear a mask, and social distancing rules will also be relaxed, as long as they’re in line with local state legislation. Office attendance will continue to be optional, with employees being notified 30 days in advance of being required to return to working from campus.

“We’re designing and piloting options to support new ways of working together and we’ll gather insights, data and feedback to help us learn as we go,” Radcliffe added.

Despite Radcliffe’s statements, The New York Times found that the policy requiring a full vaccination status in order to be allowed entry to Google’s offices is reportedly still in place.

Google wasn’t immediately available to comment on the reports.

The tech giant isn’t the only tech company that imposed vaccination policies – in January, Meta introduced a mandate requiring all employees to have had a COVID-19 booster jab before returning to its US offices, which are scheduled to reopen on 28 March.

Microsoft, on the other hand, hasn't specified whether employees will need to be vaccinated in order to return to the office. Its headquarters in Washington State are scheduled to fully reopen on 28 February.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.