Intel is also stepping up measures against employees that choose to remain unvaccinated or face being put on unpaid leave. The company gives a deadline of January 4th to get jabbed or submit an exemption. This is according to reports by The Associated Press and The Oregonian.
The company is the largest employer of labor in Oregon, with 21,000 people employed at its Washington County campus. It sent out a memo dated December 7th, which the two media houses got to see. The head of Intel HR, Christy Pambianchi, stated the rule applied to staff working from home. If they remain unvaccinated, they have to undergo weekly tests.
For those planning to obtain medical or religious exceptions, Pambianchi said Intel will consider requests until March 15th of 2022. The employee will proceed on unpaid leave when the application is not approved, starting from April 4th. The memo states the leave will last not less than three months. However, the employee will not be fired or terminated and will still get healthcare benefits.
Intel is trying to comply with President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, which applies to companies with more than 100 employees that are federal government contractors, although the fate of the executive order is tied up in the courts. It has been the subject of federal court cases as the constitutionality of such a broad mandate is being challenged. The cases could reach the Supreme Court. The company is paying attention to the case. It told the Oregonian, “We are closely monitoring the legal environment and expect it will take time for the case in Georgia, as well as other similar cases, to be fully resolved. In the meantime, we remain focused on keeping our employees regularly informed of updates, required actions, and next steps – which at present include preparing for testing and accommodation requests.”
In the same way, online search giant, Google, is also going tough on anti-vaxxers on its payroll. The company will put them on a 30-day administrative leave if they don’t get vaccinated or apply for an exemption by January 13th. For staffers that remain unvaccinated at the end of the paid leave, Google will put them on unpaid leave, which can lead to termination. This makes Google’s stance tougher in comparison to Intel’s.
Other tech companies with definite vaccine policies are Microsoft and Meta, which are asking all employees to get their jabs before offices can reopen. Both companies are targeting dates in 2022 for bringing staff back to the office.
Apple is not enforcing any vaccine mandate, at least yet. But its employees are required to take regular Covid tests. It is also giving employees $1,000 each to help with expenses related to working from home.
Boeing is, however, shelving its own vaccine mandate plans until it can get more clarity from the government.
Meanwhile, the omicron variant of the coronavirus has become the dominant strain in the US, with more than a 70 percent share of new infections. It has been observed to be faster at spreading than the delta variant, even though it is not deadlier.
The US government is responding by making 500 million home testing kits available for free. It will also send out military medical personnel to help out at hospitals overwhelmed with Covid patients.