Google has threatened to fire employees who refuse to follow its vaccine policies. This was revealed by an internal memo obtained by CNBC.
However, employees will face warnings before being booted out. They would have their pay docked first before the ultimate step of being let go.
The stated memo gave employees until December 3rd to make their vaccination status known by uploading proof. However, they have the option of claiming a medical or religious exception. After the deadline, Google would begin reaching out to people who did not upload the vaccination documentation, or had their exception claim rejected.
Any employee that fails to comply by January 18th will proceed on administrative leave for 30 days, after which Google will place them on unpaid personal leave. This stage will last for six months, with termination to follow. During the unpaid leave, the employee will retain their benefits for the first 92 days.
Going by this timeline, the first set of Googlers to be let go will be around July 2022. That is plenty of time for any employee to decide whether they want to remain on Google’s payroll.
A spokesperson defended the policy, saying, “our vaccination requirements are one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running.”
According to the memo, any employee that doesn’t want to get vaccinated can check if there are any roles in the company that will allow them to remain unvaccinated. However, the memo admitted almost all roles in the US would fall under the scope of the executive order from the president on vaccines. They can also apply for an exemption on religious or medical grounds, with the request dealt with on a case by case basis.
Google plans to resume partial office work sometime in 2022, starting with three days in the week. Many other big tech firms are looking at flexible working arrangements. For example, Meta has said it would reopen its offices in January but allow employees to delay their return.
Google has said it is following President Joe Biden’s executive order, which tasked companies with more than 100 workers to ensure their staff is fully vaccinated by January 18th or carry out regular Covid-19 tests. However, a federal court has issued a stay on the order.
For a company as large as Google, the first option is the most logical as regularly testing 150,000 employees would be challenging. The company admits as much in the memo; “We expect that almost all roles at Google in the US will fall within the scope of the executive order. Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite. We’re committed to doing everything possible to help our employees who can get vaccinated do so, and firmly stand behind our vaccination policy.”
The memo is asking all employees to turn in evidence of their vaccination status, regardless of whether they plan to resume in-person at the office or not.
Back in July, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google would ask staffers returning to offices to be vaccinated. The plan then was to reopen in January, but the company changed its mind in December in the face of increasing infection numbers. But it encouraged Googlers to return to the office “where conditions allow to reconnect with colleagues in person and start regaining the muscle memory of being in the office more regularly.”
These vaccine policies have not been welcomed by everybody at Google, as some workers have put their support behind a manifesto going round that kicks against the mandate.
Google recently revealed it would not increase its employees’ pay to match inflation, during a meeting with staff. It would also deduct from the wages of employees that opt for permanent remote work. The company has released an online tool that calculates how much employees in the situation will lose.