Netflix, Google and Facebook will mandate Covid vaccines for staff before return to offices in US
Netflix, Google and Facebook are rolling out a policy which will require all staff to be vaccinated once its workplaces are fully reopened.
For Netflix, this means that actors on their shows must be protected from Covid-19 in order to return to the sets.
Big tech company Google also confirmed it is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and the mandatory vaccinations for US employees will later be rolled out in 40 countries.
It comes as variants of Covid-19 continues to drive a dramatic spike in Covid cases and hospitalisations in the United States and across the world.
Google's announcement was shortly followed by Facebook, which also said it will make vaccines mandatory for US employees who work in offices.
However, exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons.
In an email sent to Google's more than 130,000 employees worldwide, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning October 18 instead of its previous target date of September 1.
"Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead," Pichai explained.
The decision also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited.
"This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it," Pichai wrote.
Pichai also disclosed that once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated.
The requirement will be first imposed at Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters and other US offices, before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where Google operates.
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"This is the stuff that needs to be done, because otherwise we are endangering workers and their families," said Dr Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore.
"It is not fair to parents to be expected to come back to work and sit shoulder-to-shoulder with unvaccinated people who could be carrying a potentially deadly virus," she said.
Dr Wen added that because children under the age of 12 aren’t currently eligible to be vaccinated, parents can bring the virus home to them from the office if they are around unvaccinated colleagues.
Various government agencies already have announced demands for all their employees to be vaccinated, but the corporate world so far has been taking a more measured approach, even though most lawyers believe the mandates are legal.
Delta and United airlines are requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are requiring their employees to disclose their vaccination status, but are not requiring staffers to be vaccinated.
Less than 10% of employers have said they intend to require all employees to be vaccinated, based on periodic surveys by the research firm Gartner.
While other major technology companies may follow suit now that Google and Facebook have taken stands on vaccines, employers in other industries still may be reluctant, predicted Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner's human resources practice.
"Google is seen as being such a different kind of company that I think it's going to take one or two more big employers to do something similar in terms of becoming a game changer," Kropp said.
Google's vaccine mandate will be adjusted to adhere to the laws and regulations of each location, Pichai wrote, and exceptions will be made for medical and other “protected" reasons.
President Joe Biden is also considering mandating all federal government workers be vaccinated.
The rapid rise in cases during the past month has prompted more public health officials to urge stricter measures to help overcome vaccine skepticism and misinformation.
The vaccine requirement rolling out in California next month covers more than 240,000 government employees. The city and county of San Francisco is also requiring its roughly 35,000 workers to be vaccinated or risk disciplinary action after the Food and Drug Administration approves one of the vaccines now being distributed under an emergency order.
Google's decision to extend its remote-work follows a similar move by another technology powerhouse, Apple, which recently moved its return-to-office plans from September to October, too.